Sir Elton John putting food first in the fight against HIV and AIDS in India

Sir Elton John putting food first in the fight against HIV and AIDS in India

Sir Elton John has joined with CARE International and other leading international aid agencies to put food at the forefront of the fight against HIV and AIDS in India.

Sir Elton John for putting food first in the fight against HIV and AIDS

Sir Elton John has joined with CARE International and other leading international aid agencies to put food at the forefront of the fight against HIV and AIDS in India.

The Balasahyoga project aims to improve the quality of life of children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS and their families in India’s Andhra Pradesh state by providing care, support and treatment services.

It will support 150,000 people affected by HIV and AIDS get better access to food and nutrition, as well as a chance to build sustainable livelihoods.

The £500,000 contribution from the Elton John AIDS Foundation is crucial to ensuring the success of the new Indian food project.

Sir Elton said, “If we have learned anything from this epidemic over the past 20 years, it is that success is only possible with collaboration. I hope this project will serve as a model for public/private partnership of HIV and AIDS treatment and care in India.”

Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive of CARE International UK agrees, and warns that it is almost impossible to fight the HIV virus without effective nutrition. Malnourished people have weaker immune systems and are much more susceptible to infection. To stay strong children infected with HIV can need as much as twice the amount of food that healthy children need.

“The fight against HIV cannot be won using drugs alone. Some anti-retroviral therapies are only effective when taken on a full stomach, so drug treatments must be run alongside programmes which ensure those affected have access to reliable food supplies. The need for food might soon overtake the need for anti-retroviral treatment in some areas of the world”, he added.

The HIV virus has reached epidemic levels in Andhra Pradesh. To fight it CARE International, along with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Family Health International (FHI), the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI) and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) have joined forces.

Sir Elton commends NACO for its vision and leadership in inviting world class partners such as CHAI, FHI and CARE International to join them in Andhra Pradesh in delivering a holistic package of services to those that so desperately need them.

“I am proud that my own Foundation can complement CIFF’s funding of this project by contributing the vital ingredient of sustainable food security”, he said.

ENDS

For more information please contact: Rebecca Coutts-Buys 020 7934 9417 or email coutts-buys@careinternational.org

HIV and AIDS in India and Andhra Pradesh: India has an estimated 5.2 million people living with HIV and AIDS. Nearly 40% of India’s AIDS patients are women, with heterosexual transmission being the single highest mode of transmission. Very few HIV-infected pregnant women have access to reproductive health services, including access to contraception to avert unintended pregnancies and drugs for HIV treatment. According to the UNAIDS report 2004, about 120,000 children are estimated to be infected with HIV in India.

Andhra Pradesh is one of six states in India where HIV is a generalised epidemic, containing one tenth (more than half a million) of the country’s HIV-infected population. Of those infected with HIV in Andhra Pradesh, 92% are 15-49 years old. People living with HIV and AIDS and their families are widely dispersed among the general population, which is approximately 60% rural.

HIV-affected families suffer from discrimination and isolation in their own communities and do not have adequate access to support and services that could significantly improve their nutritional status and overall food security.

It is estimated that close to one million children less than 3 years old in Andhra Pradesh are underweight, of whom 40.2 % are female. For children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, factors such as ill health, missed opportunities for education, abuse and exploitation threaten their most fundamental rights, keep them in poverty and make them more vulnerable to HIV infection.

The ‘Balasahyoga’ Programme in Andhra Pradesh: This programme aims to improve the quality of life of children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS and their families in Andhra Pradesh by providing comprehensive care, support and treatment services in all the 23 districts of Andhra Pradesh.

The programme will leverage existing resources, co-ordinate with and/or capitalise on the comparative advantages of other partner organisations, government institutions, private sector and other networks to maximise coverage and deliver the following to children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS: psychosocial support; medical care; nutrition; educational support; economic strengthening and legal support; and shelter and protection. Strengthening of government heath care services and capacity building of development partners will also be an integral part of the programme.

About the Elton John Foundation: The Elton John AIDS Foundation is one of the largest international AIDS charities worldwide. Established in 1993 by Sir Elton John with offices in the UK (international grants) and US (North American grants) it has provided funds totalling over $120 million to organisations in 55 countries. Funding covers a wide range of direct support for people living with and affected by the virus, including medical treatment, shelter, education, counselling and psychosocial care, and nutritional support.

About CARE: CARE is a leading humanitarian organisation fighting global poverty. CARE works to prevent HIV and AIDS and to provide care, treatment and support to vulnerable communities impacted by the disease in 38 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. CARE’s work with 12 million people living with HIV and AIDS around the world has shown that one of their biggest needs is a secure source of good, nutritious food. CARE has worked in India since 1950.

World Health Organisation facts:

People infected with HIV have more difficulty absorbing nutrients and getting energy and gaining weight from food.

HIV positive adults can need up to one third more energy from food than healthy adults in order to maintain a normal body weight and physical activity.

Children who are losing weight can need 50 to 100 per cent more energy than healthy children.

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Name: Rebecca Coutts Buy
Phone: 020 7934 9417