Nutrition and HIV/AIDS

The HIV/AIDS epidemic poses an inescapable challenge to the world at large and to Africa in particular. A massive effort is needed to cushion the impact of the epidemic, and nutritional care and support should be integral elements of any action taken. An evidence-based response is required to alleviate the overall burden of malnutrition and to reduce the severity and complexity of the impact that HIV/AIDS and malnutrition have on each other. Policy-makers and actors in both nutrition and HIV/AIDS have to be reached. Clear and culturally acceptable messages are required. Innovative partnerships are needed.

Combating HIV/AIDS is the responsibility of a broad coalition of actors including affected communities, local and national governments, religious and social institutions, United Nations agencies, NGOs, the private sector and individuals. There is an urgent need for all parties concerned to take concerted action. For its part, the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at WHO has facilitated, in coordination with other WHO departments and key partners, a number of activities to ensure a strategic comprehensive approach to the epidemic.

Evidence and guidelines

The World Health Organization coordinated with partners the review of the evidence on nutrition and HIV; as part of that process and between 2003 and 2004 a technical advisory group met in Geneva, South Africa, and Washington, DC and an expert meeting was held in Geneva in May 2003.

Technical advisory group on nutrition and HIV/AIDS, 4-6 May 2003, Geneva, Switzerland

As a result of this work papers related to macronutrients and HIV, micronutrients and HIV, nutrition and antiretroviral therapy, infant feeding in the context of HIV, nutrition of the pregnant and lactating women living with HIV and, growth of children living with HIV were published. These papers were updated as evidence became available.

Using updated evidence WHO issued the "guidelines for an integrated approach to the nutritional care of HIV-infected children (6 months-14 years)" in a preliminary version for country introduction.

In 2010, the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development started the process of review of evidence to update nutrition-related guidelines and recommendations, the updates on nutrition and HIV are included in this process, including the development of guidelines for the nutritional care and support of adolescents (>14 years) and adults living with HIV, including pregnant and lactating women.

Regional meetings

WHO organized, in collaboration with partners, regional meetings in Africa (English and French-speaking countries) and Asia. Participants issued statements committing to work in the area on nutrition and HIV.

Other meetings

Joint ATM, DRH and DSD meeting on Round 7 GFATM proposal development
17-20 April 2007, Harare, Zimbabwe - Preliminary version

More information