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Clinton Foundation and WFP join forces in global fight against HIV/AIDS pandemic

CLINTON FOUNDATION AND THE UN WORLD FOOD PROGRAM JOIN FORCES IN GLOBAL FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS PANDEMIC

NEW YORK The Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) today signed a landmark agreement to provide food to AIDS patients undergoing anti-retroviral (ARV) drug treatment in developing countries. Ira C. Magaziner, Chairman of the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, and James Morris, the Executive Director WFP signed the agreement today in New York.

The agreement will help to ensure that AIDS patients receiving treatment from CHAI and its partners will benefit from a more comprehensive care and treatment package. Too often, food has been a missing part of the treatment regimen because, among other things, patients become too weak and impoverished to feed themselves and their families.

"One of the key challenges we face in tackling the HIV/AIDS crisis is that if a patient is malnourished, the ARVs often do not take full effect," said President Bill Clinton. "Furthermore, malnourished patients are frequently susceptible to other opportunistic infections and illnesses.

This agreement aims to ensure a more effective response in dealing with a crisis where the poor are disproportionately affected, and I look forward to working with the WFP to ensure that food support becomes an integral part in the delivery of comprehensive care and treatment to those suffering from HIV/AIDS."

In addition to the deleterious impact poor nutrition has on the health of AIDS patients, it has been established that HIV and AIDS also dramatically deepens food crises in poor countries. Families are often less able to earn a living as their ability to feed themselves is undermined. Research has also shown that hunger can cause previously HIV-negative people to engage in high-risk survival strategies such as sex work that increase their chances of becoming infected with the virus.

The overall result is that poverty and hunger significantly escalate the intensity of the crisis and the number of people infected. Last year alone, WFP assisted over 10 million people with HIV/AIDS, mostly in sub-saharan Africa.

"Existing therapies require sound nutrition," said James Morris, WFP Executive Director. "Adequate food is essential for prolonging the lives of parents and enabling them to have a few more precious weeks, months or maybe even years to work and spend time with their families. Perhaps we cannot give them hope for a cure but we can certainly give them time."

The Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative is at work in 18 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean as it continues to focus on ways to dramatically increase the number of people with HIV/AIDS who are receiving care and treatment. In order to reach its goals, the Initiative is providing technical assistance to build the necessary physical and human capacity, procure needed pharmaceuticals and diagnostic tests and mobilize international resources to deliver high quality care and treatment to those who are struggling with HIV/AIDS. For more information about the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation and its HIV/AIDS Initiative, please visit: www.clintonpresidentialcenter.org.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: in 2003 it gave food aid to a record 104 million people in 81 countries, including 56 million hungry children. For more information please visit: www.wfp.org

Joseph Cashion
(Clinton Foundation)
jcashion@owjc.org

Matthew Mcilvenna
(UNWFP)
Tel. +1-212-9631981
mcilvenna@un.org