Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hierarchy of Need

The morning plenary was about HIV treatment in poor countries, mostly Africa. There is a lot I could tell you, but in the ten minutes I have between sessions I'll just mention this. It seems that one of the more common reasons that people in Africa don't take their meds as prescribed is because when they don't take the meds, they don't have any appetite, and if they don't have any food, they'd rather not be hungry.

If the clinics can get food from the World Food Program, the people will take their pills, gain weight, and stay healthy. Giving people food is also a good way to make sure they come in for their appointments. So here's a side effect of the rising global price and scarcity of food, which we are experiencing right now. Not only will people starve, they won't take their HIV meds, which means their viral loads will go up and they will become more contagious -- until they die, which will happen sooner, of course.

It's also a reminder that, while the various global funds are doing a a better job of getting medications to people, hunger is still a major problem in much of the world, and it's getting worse. It all goes together.

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