Acquired immune deficiency syndrome

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic and life threatening condition where the individual experiences a telltale assortment of infections, opportunistic diseases and certain cancers as a result of progressive destruction of immune system cells by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). AIDS is the end stage of infection caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. Food security occurs when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food in order to preserve a healthy and active life that meets an individual’s dietary needs as well as their food preferences.
HIV/AIDS may have devastating effects on nutrition and household food security. Nutritional status may be driven by multiple factors, such as household food security, health and care, which are all affected by HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS commonly affects the household’s most productive members first. When these individuals are affected with HIV/AIDS, a critical burden is placed on the family, their ability to work, feed themselves and provide care to the rest of the family. Progression of the disease places extra strain on the family as it becomes harder to cope with, particularly since resources are depleted. For example, poverty escalates when valuable belongings such as tools and livestock are sold in order to purchase food and pay for medical costs. Due to insufficient food or income, some family members may travel to alternative areas in search of work, increasing their chances of developing HIV and transferring it to family members on arriving back home. For some people, commercial sex may be their only other alternative in order to support and feed their family.
Food security may lead to malnutrition which can provoke and stimulate the progression of AIDS. Similarly, the epidemic itself may contribute to malnutrition by compressing appetite, interfering with nutrient intake and placing further demand on the nutritional status of the body. Malnutrition and HIV/AIDS may also form a vicious cycle for the patient, whereby, a lack of nutrition increases the susceptibility to infections for the individual and therefore aggravates the severity of the HIV/AIDS disorder. This then results in a decline of nutritional status. When symptoms of HIV are not yet shown in individuals, infection with HIV may still hinder nutritional status. Adequate nutrition is essential for disease resistance and may enhance the condition of life for a patient suffering with HIV/AIDS.
HIV/AIDS epidemic has a destructive influence on health, nutrition, food security and socioeconomic development. Immediate attention should be placed on the use of resources for nutrition as a central component of care. In order to combat the issues of HIV/AIDS and food security in households, one should promote awareness through the community and political leaders, and construct a general agreement for action. One should ensure that there is sufficient nutritional care available for individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS. One should also protect and support food security among vulnerable households, and uphold community based initiatives to enhance care for households affected with HIV/AIDS.