Kenya HIV Families Torn Between Health or Food

December 22, 2011 - 4:56 AM
Kenya HIV No Food

In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011, neighboring children sit in the courtyard outside the house of Mary and Ishmael Abongo, both of whom are HIV positive, in the Mathare slum of Nairobi, Kenya. The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization says that 2011 prices for staple foods are almost twice as high as they were in 2009, with rising prices and a lack of new funds for HIV programs meaning countless poor families must decide whether to focus on the health of an HIV-positive adult or on a child's hunger. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Rising food prices are taking a toll in East Africa on low-income people who have the virus that causes AIDS.

An expert on HIV/AIDS for the World Food Program says some HIV patients are refusing to take their medicine. Some fear that the nausea they would get from taking the drugs without adequate food will make them too weak to work, or even to look for work.

In Nairobi, Rosalia Adhiambo won't take free anti-HIV drugs because she can't afford to both feed her grandniece and herself. So she feeds 5-year-old Emily and doesn't take the medicine.

The U.N. says 2011 prices for staple foods are almost twice as high as they were in 2009, forcing the poor to make hard choices between food, medicine and shelter.