Food insecurity is a key social and health issue among persons living with HIV (PLHIV). Food insecurity oftentimes co-occurs with substance use, but little is known about the relationship between tobacco use and food insecurity particularly among PLHIV. In this study, we prospectively examined the association of cigarette smoking with food insecurity in a cohort of 108 individuals seeking vocational rehabilitation services. Over the 12-month study period, smokers at baseline reported consistently higher levels of food insecurity compared to non-smokers. Smoking remained an independent risk factor for greater food insecurity, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics and known confounders (e.g., substance use, depression). Food insecurity is a key structural and socioeconomic barrier that may partially explain HIV-related health disparities observed among smokers. Further research is needed to characterize the bio-behavioral mechanisms linking smoking and food insecurity as well as test whether smoking cessation can reduce food insecurity in PLHIV who smoke.
Keywords: Food insecurity; HIV; Smoking; Substance use.