Using household data from Northern Zambia, this article looks at HIV/AIDS impacts on different aspects of people's access to food. The findings draw particular attention to the variances in vulnerability among households burdened by illness and orphans that are headed by men, women and the elderly. It is argued that vulnerability levels to HIV/AIDS impact differ substantially among households and implicitly expose the underlying causal conditions that enable or disable people in their responsiveness. Households affected by HIV/AIDS cannot be treated as a homogeneous group and understanding the differences in vulnerability can play an important policy role in designing targeted support.