Objectives: Little is known about the potential impact of food insecurity on mortality among people living with HIV/AIDS. We examined the potential relationship between food insecurity and all-cause mortality among HIV-positive injection drug users (IDU) initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) across British Columbia (BC).
Methods: Cross-sectional measurement of food security status was taken at participant ART initiation. Participants were prospectively followed from June 1998 to September 2011 within the fully subsidized ART program. Cox proportional hazard models were used to ascertain the association between food insecurity and mortality, controlling for potential confounders.
Results: Among 254 IDU, 181 (71.3%) were food insecure and 108 (42.5%) were hungry. After 13.3 years of median follow-up, 105 (41.3%) participants died. In multivariate analyses, food insecurity remained significantly associated with mortality (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] = 1.95, 95% CI: 1.07-3.53), after adjusting for potential confounders.
Conclusions: HIV-positive IDU reporting food insecurity were almost twice as likely to die, compared to food secure IDU. Further research is required to understand how and why food insecurity is associated with excess mortality in this population. Public health organizations should evaluate the possible role of food supplementation and socio-structural supports for IDU within harm reduction and HIV treatment programs.