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Sir Elton John has joined with CARE International UK and other leading international aid agencies to put food at the forefront of the fight against HIV and AIDS in India.

A £500,000 ($1 million) contribution from the Elton John AIDS Foundation is crucial to ensuring the success of the new Balasahyoga project, which aims to improve the quality of life of children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS and their families in India’s Andhra Pradesh state by providing care, support and treatment services.

The project will help 150,000 people affected by HIV and AIDS get better access to food and nutrition, as well as a chance to build sustainable livelihoods.

Sir Elton said, “If we have learned anything from this epidemic over the past 20 years, it is that success is only possible with collaboration. I hope this project will serve as a model for public/private partnership of HIV and AIDS treatment and care in India.”

Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive of CARE UK warns that it is almost impossible to fight the HIV virus without effective nutrition. Malnourished people have weaker immune systems and are much more susceptible to infection. To stay strong children infected with HIV can need as much as twice the amount of food that healthy children need.

“The fight against HIV cannot be won using drugs alone. Some anti-retroviral therapies are only effective when taken on a full stomach, so drug treatments must be run alongside programmes which ensure those affected have access to reliable food supplies. The need for food might soon overtake the need for anti-retroviral treatment in some areas of the world”, he added.

The HIV virus has reached epidemic levels in Andhra Pradesh. To fight it CARE International, along with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Family Health International (FHI), the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI) and the Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) have joined forces.

Sir Elton has commended NACO for its vision and leadership in inviting world class partners such as CHAI, FHI and CARE International to join them in Andhra Pradesh in delivering a holistic package of services to those that so desperately need them.

“I am proud that my own Foundation can complement CIFF’s funding of this project by contributing the vital ingredient of sustainable food security”, he said.

Source: CARE International

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