The Impact of HIV/AIDS on Food Security and Nutrition in South Africa

by LADZANI, R, 2009
Research Report. Centre for Poverty Employment and Growth, Human Sciences Research Council

An estimated 33.2 million people worldwide were living with HIV and AIDS in 2007. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of HIV-infected persons (about 70%), yet it accounts for only 11% of the world population. South Africa is reported to have the highest number of HIV-infected persons in the world, with about 5.5 million people living with HIV. Persons aged 15–24 years account for 90% of new infections. The impact of HIV and AIDS on agriculture and food security systems in sub-Saharan Africa is of great concern. An estimated 14 million South Africans were food insecure in 2004. The relationship between AIDS, poverty and food insecurity is a vicious cycle, to which women seem more vulnerable. Poverty increases the risk of HIV infections. In turn, HIV infection tends to occur among adults, thus eroding the provider base for the household and reducing its purchasing power. People’s ability to develop and sustain themselves is thus disrupted by the twin problems of HIV and AIDS and food insecurity. This calls for prompt action and a multi-sectoral approach that involves ministries of health, education, agriculture, social services, the corporate sector, faith organisations, and the like. Government needs to speed up service delivery in order to save the vulnerable young generation. Also, the adoption of actions proposed by the World Food Programme, the WHO and UNAIDS to address HIV, food insecurity and nutrition is crucial.