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Nutrition and HIV and AIDS

A smiling boy stands straight beside a tree

HIV and AIDS affect every aspect of people’s lives. That’s why Plan’s HIV and AIDS projects go beyond the realm of awareness, prevention and care to improving local food security and nutrition. In fact, through our work with families affected by HIV, we know that the relationship between nutrition and illness is a critical one.

Why is it so important?

Firstly, HIV and AIDS can significantly interfere with daily activities among those who are affected – especially when people get sick, but also when they need time off to stay healthy, whether it’s for clinic visits or vital rest. When family members can’t work, their income and food supplies fall, compromising their diet and putting them at a higher risk for malnutrition.

And when HIV and AIDS affect people in the primes of their lives, particularly mothers and fathers, it’s the children who end up going without the food and nutrition they need.

Moreover, without adequate nutrition, people living with HIV are less able to combat the disease. Their immune systems become further compromised, they get longer and more frequent illnesses, and the progression toward AIDS, in many, speeds up. For those already living with AIDS, the impact of malnutrition is even worse, making them more susceptible to aggressive, life-threatening infections.

All told, malnutrition increases the impact of HIV and AIDS considerably, eroding both the quality and length of life for those affected while compromising the health of their children and leaving them to fend for themselves much sooner than necessary.

That’s why, with your support, we invest in improved food security and nutrition as part of our HIV and AIDS projects.

Progress on nutrition in Rwanda

One of the world’s least developed countries, Rwanda confronts big challenges when it comes to food security, as well as HIV and AIDS. But with your help, we’ve been hard at work on a range of interventions to help people address these hardships, and we’ve made some real advances on boosting nutrition for kids and families affected by these diseases.

Highlights to date include:

  • Trained 164 community health workers and the staff of 25 health clinics in how to recognize and treat moderate to acute malnutrition
  • Provided supplementary food to more than 2,000 people affected by HIV and AIDS, the majority of them pregnant or nursing women
  • Delivered nutritious school meals benefitting over 200,000 children
  • Provided supplementary food programs for more than 2,500 malnourished children
  • Conducted practical demonstrations at community centres on nutrition, healthy diets and meal preparation.

“This project is very important,” says Jacques, a staff member in Rwanda. “It is helping people fight against malnutrition, boost their immune systems, cope with their daily treatments, and it is especially helping children.”

Laurence is just one of the many local mothers benefitting from Plan’s program. Once malnourished, today she’s a program volunteer.

“I explain to other community members how I managed to improve the wellbeing and health of my children and myself by getting access to information, food, and skills to prepare my own vegetable garden,” she says with pride.

By targeting the most marginalized individuals in Rwanda through nutritional support and feeding programs, we are strengthening family and community coping mechanisms and improving lives.

New project in El Salvador

We’re very excited to announce the expansion of our HIV and AIDS projects into El Salvador. Thanks to your ongoing support, we’ve already begun to roll out a series of awareness, testing and treatment initiatives aimed at reducing the impact of HIV in this Central American country.

In collaboration with local organizations, our projects are focused on strengthening community-based outreach and care. We’re supporting local agencies and clinics so they can improve their program planning and service delivery. We’re also helping them roll out high-quality testing facilities to ensure early diagnosis and intervention, as well as assisting with the development of comprehensive, community-based solutions so that people with HIV can stay healthy longer.

Already off to a successful start, this project will improve the lives of some of this country’s poorest and most marginalized people, all thanks to the support of generous donors like you.

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