Food insecurity linked to HIV-treated drug users' deaths

Food insecurity increases the risk of death among injection drug users living with HIV/AIDS even when they are receiving life-prolonging antiretroviral therapy (ART), according to a new study involving Simon Fraser University.

The study, recently published in the peer-reviewed science journal, PLoS One, examines the impact of food insecurity and hunger on survival among . Food insecurity is defined by the United Nations' World Food Programme as having insufficient access to adequate quantity and quality of food. Researchers found that drug users who were food insecure when first initiating ART were twice as likely to die compared to individuals who were food secure.

"This is the first study to look at the impact of food insecurity on the survival of HIV-positive users," says senior author Robert Hogg, an SFU health sciences professor and director of the HIV/ Treatment Program at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE).

Hogg is responsible for the B.C. portion of a national HIV food security study, which this paper advances.

"The introduction of life-saving antiretroviral therapy has significantly reduced HIV-related morbidity and mortality, however, the impact of insufficient access to food, particularly quality food, on the mortality of HIV-positive injection drug users is alarming. This research points to the urgent need to further investigate the impact of food insecurity on the of people living with HIV/AIDS."

Researchers followed 254 injection drug users across B.C., finding that 71 per cent of them reported being food insecure at the time of ART initiation. After 13 years of follow-up, drug users who were food insecure were twice as likely to die compared to individuals who were food secure. Sub-analyses found hunger, or food insufficiency, was not the primary cause of mortality in this population.

"Findings regarding the relationship between food insecurity and mortality are particularly relevant to community organizations working in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, the epicentre of drug use in Canada," says Brian Chittock. He is a co-principal investigator on the national HIV food security study and executive director of AIDS Vancouver.

"The findings speak to the need to explore options for improving the quality of foods available to residents. Further, the results suggest would benefit from improved access to education and counseling around healthy eating, nutritional screening and referral for appropriate clinical care."

"Our work has international implications as it highlights the importance of food security for the sustained survival of HIV-positive people not just here in B.C., but in other parts of the world," says Aranka Anema. She is the first author on this study and a BC-CfE epidemiologist.

"We are collaborating with the United Nations World Program and other international agencies to identify evidence-based practices and policies for the prevention and management of among people living with HIV/AIDS."

More information: www.plosone.org/article/info%3… journal.pone.0061277

Related Stories

Antiretroviral treatment for HIV reduces food insecurity

date Dec 04, 2012

Can treatment with modern anti-HIV drugs help fight hunger for HIV-infected patients in Africa? Starting antiretroviral therapy for HIV reduces "food insecurity" among patients in Uganda, suggests a study published online ...

Recommended for you

HIV prevention and risk behaviors follow weekly patterns

date 14 hours ago

The peak time for seeking information on topics related to HIV, such as prevention and testing, is at the beginning of the week, while risky sexual behaviors tend to increase on the weekends, according to a new analysis by ...

Mathematical model seeks functional cure for HIV

date 16 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Individuals with the natural ability to control HIV infection in the absence of treatment are referred to as elite controllers (ECs). Such individuals maintain undetectable viral loads ...

Indiana HIV outbreak, hepatitis C epidemic sparks US alert

date Apr 24, 2015

Federal health officials helping to contain an HIV outbreak in Indiana state issued an alert to health departments across the U.S. on Friday, urging them to take steps to identify and track HIV and hepatitis C cases in an ...

Why are HIV survival rates lower in the Deep South than the rest of the US?

date Apr 22, 2015

The Deep South region has become the epicenter of the US HIV epidemic. Despite having only 28% of the total US population, nine states in the Deep South account for nearly 40% of national HIV diagnoses. This region has the highest HIV diagnosis rates and the highest number of people living with HIV of any ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.