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Action needed on AIDS

"Hunger and malnutrition are inextricably linked with HIV and AIDS," says Concern's Breda Gahan.

Concern Worldwide is calling on the Irish government to continue to lead by example in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Considerable progress has been made in Ireland in the last decade, but this momentum must be maintained at home and overseas if Ireland is to realise the Millennium Development Goal target “to halt and reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS by 2015.”

28 million more people worldwide are now estimated to be living with HIV and AIDS than in 1988. One of the key causal factors in developing countries is the link between hunger and malnutrition and the spread of HIV and AIDS.

AIDS continues to be the leading cause of death in Africa, which is home to 67% of all people living with HIV. Twenty-two million people in sub-Saharan Africa are living with HIV.

Clear link between hunger and AIDS

“It has now been established that there is a clear and critical link between HIV and AIDS and food insecurity in the developing world,” said Breda Gahan, Concern’s Global HIV and AIDS Programme Advisor. “Hunger and malnutrition are inextricably linked with HIV and AIDS. Hunger increases one’s risk of contracting HIV, and HIV contributes to malnutrition. Poor people who are suffering from hunger can engage in riskier behaviour just to survive. Women and children are particularly vulnerable in this respect. Malnutrition weakens the defence systems of people with HIV and makes them more prone to other infections such as malaria and TB.”

Care and prevention

With almost 20 years of field experience supporting HIV and AIDS work, Concern’s key focus has been on care and prevention. It has been supporting actions to reduce risk and vulnerability in all its 30 countries of operation. Concern supports additional specific HIV and AIDS response programmes in 21 countries.

Concern’s HIV and AIDS Strategy 2008-2012 has four goals: reducing stigma and increasing prevention; care and treatment; nutrition and livelihood  support, and responding to HIV and AIDS in emergency.

Time for focused action

“Today marks 20 years of World AIDS Day and it is time for focused action,” added Gahan. “With 5,479 people dying of AIDS every day and 7,400 people newly infected with HIV every day, it is evident that the HIV epidemic is still outpacing the global response. We’ve had 20 years since the first World AIDS Day. We know what to do. Let’s do it.”

Further information: 

  • Breda Gahan, Global HIV and AIDS Programme Advisor, Concern: ++353 1 417 7752
  • Paul O’Mahony, Communications Officer, Concern: ++353 1 417 7750