The Right to Food in the context of HIV/AIDS

Author: Arne Vandenbogaerde (FAO Right to Food Team)

Right to Food Study, 2009.

The annual reports of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) indicate little progress in the struggle against the epidemic: the numbers continue to increase – the latest report states that 38.6 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. The causes of HIV infection have been known for a long time, but as this study shows there is a new understanding of what fuels the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The most characteristic change in addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis was the view that to achieve positive results and address the root causes, a human rights based approach was needed. The 2005 World Health Organization (WHO) conference on HIV/AIDS, food and nutrition security in Durban, South Africa, reviewed the evidence for the link between food security and HIV/AIDS and called for the integration of nutrition into the package of care, treatment and support for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Research on the vicious circle of HIV/AIDS and food and nutrition security has changed the focus of HIV/AIDS and food-security programmes: food-security aspects are now included in treatment programmes and vice versa. But there has been little attention to prevention and treatment through the right to food, though it is now acknowledged that a rights-based approach to the epidemic is fundamental.

This Right to Food Study aims to clarify the relevance of the right to food in combating HIV/AIDS and demonstrates that there are good reasons for supporting the integration of the right to food into prevention and treatment programmes to make them truly effective. The study highlights that the call for a comprehensive rights-based approach to HIV/AIDS prevention requires identification of the rights that, when violated, make people vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and stresses that the right to food is one such right. Furthermore, the study also concludes that the human right to adequate food should be embodied in national laws to stand alongside other rights such as the rights to health, adequate housing and education.



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