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“AIDS IS IN THE FOOD”: ZIMBABWEANS’ ASSOCIATION BETWEEN NUTRITION AND HIV/AIDS AND THEIR POTENTIAL FOR ADDRESSING FOOD INSECURITY AND HIV/AIDS

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Abstract

This article discusses the shift in Zimbabwe from the traditionally broad and diversified diet, consisting of a variety of wild plants and animals, to the current diet, based on a few cash crops. The narrowing of the food base is not only problematic in terms of nutrition but has been increasing vulnerability to weather-related food shortages. Zimbabweans are aware of these risks and conclude that the lack of sufficient and healthy nutrition triggers the development of full-blown AIDS in the bodies of HIV positive individuals. In other words, HIV/AIDS is a result of food shortages, at least to some extent. Such views are encouraged by media reports arguing that AIDS is not triggered by HIV but by malnourishment. Food shortages are, according to informants, aggravated by the desperate political situation in the country. The extent of the AIDS epidemic is explained through the political context in which food shortages occur. This article also highlights the importance of integrating cultural understandings of food and nutrition into programs aiming at raising awareness of the AIDS epidemic, preventing new HIV infections, and improving care for those suffering of the disease.

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