September 6, 2018

The United States Conference on AIDS: Food Is Medicine for People Living with HIV

Written by Karen Pearl

What if we could end the HIV Epidemic in just a few years? While we know that HIV diagnoses are overall declining, we are still far from this goal. There continues to be 40,000 new HIV infections each year in the US, and new infections disproportionately affect minorities, and, especially in the South, women. To truly End the Epidemic, we need to support those who are diagnosed by linking them to and retaining them in HIV healthcare to improve their health and quality of life and to maximize viral suppression to prevent further transmission.

Access to food and nutrition is key to this worthy goal. Nutritional status is strongly predictive of survival and functional status among people living with HIV (PWH). Nutritional problems can occur at any state of illness and can contribute to impaired immune response, accelerated disease progression, an increase the frequency of opportunistic infections, and may impede the effectiveness of medications. Furthermore, adherence to antiretroviral regimens is complex and often poor due to extraordinarily rigid adherence requirements, dietary guidelines, and side effects. Research shows that access to medically tailored meals (MTM), like those from God’s Love, help people living with HIV (PWH) remain nourished, adhere to their medications and achieve viral suppression. The same services improve health outcomes and lower the cost of care for those living with HIV.

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