May 31, 2013
A study by researchers at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, found that food insecurity increases risk of death among injection drug users (IDUs) with HIV/AIDS, even if they are receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Robert Hogg -- senior author, Simon Fraser University health sciences professor, and director of the HIV/AIDS Drug Treatment Program at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS -- and colleagues investigated the impact of food insecurity and hunger on survival among IDUs. The researchers followed 254 IDUs from across British Columbia. Of the 254 participants, 71 percent reported food insecurity when they began ART. In 13 years of follow-up, researchers found that participants who were food insecure were twice as likely to die compared to those who were food secure. Analysis showed that hunger (food insufficiency) was not the primary cause of death.
The researchers concluded that the quality of food available to the public needed improvement and suggested that drug users could benefit from greater access to education and counseling about healthy eating , nutritional screening, and referral for appropriate a clinical care. The researchers reported that they were collaborating with the United Nations World Food Program and other international agencies to identify evidence-based practices and policies for prevention and management of food insecurity for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The full report, "Relationship Between Food Insecurity and Mortality Among HIV-Positive Injection Drug Users Receiving Antiretroviral Therapy in British Columbia, Canada," was published online in the journal PLoS One (2013; 8(5): e61277. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061277).