Health and welfare effects of integrating AIDS treatment with food assistance in resource constrained settings: a systematic review of theory and evidence

Soc Sci Med. 2011 Sep;73(5):685-92. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.06.056. Epub 2011 Jul 23.


The article systematically reviews theory and existing empirical evidence on the health and welfare effects of integrating AIDS treatment with food assistance. While theoretical predictions point to possible improvements in health, consumption and ambiguous effects on labor supply, there are few empirical studies that used robust designs. Five empirical studies are reviewed and in two of them, food assistance improves nutritional status, especially when provided in the form of ready to use therapeutic feeding. However because of methodological concerns, the positive effects of food assistance on weight gain warrant cautious interpretation. One study found a positive association between food assistance and adherence. While no quantitative study evaluated welfare effects, respondents in a qualitative study self-reported the resumption of labor activities, increased dietary diversity and food consumption. There is still limited evidence on the role of duration of AIDS treatment and programmatic aspects like targeting, composition and duration of food assistance. The major conclusion of the paper is that there is still need for further research based on robust designs which investigates both health and household welfare effects.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Food Supply*
  • Health Resources / supply & distribution*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Public Assistance*
  • Research


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents