Many anti-retroviral medications shouldn’t be taken on an empty stomach, explains Partners in Health’s model of HIV care. Combating malnutrition is critical to treating HIV; it increases treatment adherence, prolongs life, and supports family members who suffer if their provider can no longer work. According to the World Food Program (WFP), “Improved food security also plays a critical role in helping to stop the spread of the epidemic.” In many of the communities, providing food assistance also helps prevent patients from engaging in commercial sex to support their family or afford medical bills.
In Mozambique, the WFP’s food voucher system is linked to a mobile phone/online system that allows recipients to access local food in registered stores. The WFP is also piloting a debit card system that makes transactions easy for both recipients and local vendors.
In addition to collaborating with acute food assistance organizations like the WFP, Partners in Health also emphasizes more sustainable agriculture initiatives that support long-term food security. In New York, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sponsors a program that combines food vouchers with nutrition education workshops to help patients learn how to protect their health without breaking their budget.