It is traditional wisdom that how we eat affects our health. Before the advent of modern pharmaceuticals, food and herbs were the main tools available to help people heal and remain healthy. In the case of HIV treatment, pharmaceuticals and food together increase health outcomes and even decrease the medical costs of HIV care.
Malnutrition is a leading cause of hospitalization or nursing home admittance nationwide. According to the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), food and nutrition services, which are what we provide at Poverello, are inexpensive treatments that address the root cause of institutionalization for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). When food and nutrition services are provided adequately they enable PLWHA to remain in their homes rather than being admitted to the hospital.
According to a study performed by the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning, one can feed a person a diet designed for their unique combination of illnesses for $20 per day where as a hospital stay costs upwards of $4,000 per day. A new study from Philadelphia University demonstrated that the average costs for PLWHA in the six months following initiation of food and nutrition services went from an average of about $50,000 per month to approximately $17,000 per month.
In addition, the Philadelphia University study found that while controlling for a variety of other demographic and environmental factors, access to food improves medical care and health outcomes for PLWHA, resulting in fewer hospital visits, better maintenance in care, higher CD4 counts and a better probability of undetectable viral loads. And yet food insecurity remains, particularly wide spread among populations of PLWHA. At Poverello we seek to address food insecurity thereby improving health and decreasing the cost of treatment for HIV/AIDS.