The concept of “food is medicine‟ has a long history, as illustrated by the Haitian proverb, popularized by Paul Farmer, “Giving drugs without food is like washing your hands and drying them with dirt.” While adequate food and nutrition are basic to maintaining health for all persons, good nutrition is crucial for the management of HIV infection. Proper nutrition is needed to increase absorption of medication, reduce side effects, and maintain healthy body weight. Qualitative and quantitative research suggests that, for many people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), access to medically tailored food and nutrition services constitutes an urgent and unmet need.
The vision of the Oklahoma Nutrition Advocacy Team is to establish collaboration between AIDS Service Organizations, medical providers, and other businesses on a level not yet realized in Oklahoma. To date, the advocacy team has made progress in establishing awareness of food insecurity among Oklahomans living with HIV and has created nutrition referral processes for medical providers to start addressing these issues. Additionally, the team has built trust between organizations laying the groundwork for addressing other issues in the state for our fellow Oklahomans. We believe that together, the members of the Oklahoma Nutrition Advocacy Team can make a difference in the lives of PLWHA by creating a more stable, secure, and nutritionally appropriate food supply and, as a result, may also prevent new cases of HIV infection.