Few crises have affected human health and threatened social and economic development like HIV/AIDS. As infection rates continue to escalate around the world — particularly in countries with large rural populations and widespread small-scale agriculture — the pandemic is having a significant impact on food security and nutrition, creating a deadly cycle:
HIV/AIDS typically strikes the household's most productive members first. When these people become ill, there is an immediate strain on the family's ability to work, feed themselves and provide care.
As the disease progresses, it can become even harder for a family to cope, especially as resources are drained — for instance, valuable assets, such as livestock and tools, may need to be sold in order to pay for food and medical expenses — and poverty advances.
Without food or income, some family members may migrate in search of work, increasing their chances of contracting HIV — and bringing it back home. For others, commercial sex may be their only option to feed and support their family.
Food insecurity also leads to malnutrition, which can aggravate and accelerate the development of AIDS. Likewise, the disease itself can contribute to malnutrition by reducing appetite, interfering with nutrient absorption, and making additional demands on the body's nutritional status.
HOW TO BREAK THE CYCLE — what FAO is doing to help