Food insecurity (FI) has been associated with HIV disease progression among people on antiretroviral therapy (ART), presumably a consequence of poor medication adherence. We assessed whether there is a longitudinal association between FI and two primary outcomes reflecting on HIV disease progression (i.e., CD4 count and time to ART initiation) among people not on ART. Analyses used linear mixed effects and Cox models controlling for confounders. In this cohort (n = 310) FI was common (53%). Most (71.3%) reported past month heavy alcohol use and 37.1% reported past month injection drug use. Only 50 participants initiated ART during the study and mean time to ART was 128 days (SD 120). There were no significant differences in CD4 cell count between the groups with mild/moderate FI or severe FI versus those with no FI [adjusted mean difference, mild/moderate insecurity versus no FI -32.5 (95% CI -94.3, 29.3); severe versus no FI -45.5 (95% CI -124.1, 33.0); global p = 0.42]. We found no significant association between FI and longer time to ART initiation (p = 0.36). Food security is a desirable goal for overall health and shown beneficial for those on ART, however it does not appear to be associated with HIV disease progression among those with high prevalence of substance use and not yet on ART.
Keywords: Access to care; Food insecurity; HIV progression; Russia.