Background: The intersection of nutrition and HIV underscores the importance of adequate food and a diverse diet. In communities with high prevalence of food insecurity and HIV, there is a substantial co-occurrence of low dietary diversity, undernutrition, and adverse health outcomes.
Aim: The aim of this study was to identify correlates of individual dietary diversity (IDD) and its association with health outcomes for people living with HIV (PLHIV) in rural Zambia.
Methods: The study used a cross-sectional design using data from 101 PLHIV. We calculated IDD using a composite score based on dietary diversity, food frequency, and the relative nutritional importance of different food groups. Adherence was measured using the visual analog scale. Psychosocial functioning was measured using the Structural Barriers to Medication-taking Scale and the Perceived Stress Scale. Data were analyzed using linear and logistic regressions. Multiple imputation was conducted to address missing data.
Results: Staples were the most commonly consumed food group. Income and household size were negatively associated with IDD scores. Assets were positively associated with IDD scores. Residing in Lundazi and having a poor or fair self-rated health were associated with lower IDD scores. IDD was also associated, albeit not significant, with desirable health outcomes, including adherence and lower levels of perceived barriers to pill taking and stress.
Conclusions: Findings suggest a heterogeneous effect of socioeconomic variables on IDD. Understanding this heterogeneity is important for the design of interventions. Interventions that combine opportunities to generate economic resources with food and nutrition coaching may be appropriate and effective.
Keywords: Dietary diversity; HIV; Zambia; adherence; assets; barriers to pill taking; income; perceived stress; psychosocial functioning.