Food and Nutrition Security

Under-nutrition in PLHIV can cause multiple complications, such as low Body Mass Index (BMI) which can accelerate disease progression and increased mortality (WHO 2003). Energy demands go up due to increased pressure on the immune system and untreated HIV symptoms can greatly affect one’s appetite and interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients. This is particularly true of pregnant and lactating women.  As with livelihood security, food insecurity leads to risky practices including poor feeding habits or insufficient food intake which can cause nausea and vomiting in patients on ART. Furthermore, poor nutrient absorption increases susceptibility to opportunistic infections for PLHIV (National Food & Nutrition Strategic Plan 2011-2015). The National Food and Nutrition Policy and the NFNSP will continue to guide the implementation and monitoring of the food and nutrition interventions across sectors for people living and affected by HIV.

The key strategy for the R-NASF is to increase access to and coverage of community-based nutrition interventions and integration of food and nutrition in the overall HIV management for PLHIV, pregnant mothers, those on ART and other vulnerable groups. Advocacy for mainstreaming food and nutrition as an integral part of the comprehensive HIV management and support will be scaled up. There is also a need to improve understanding of food and nutrition by PLHIV and their families through stronger links between community systems and health centers.