Food insufficiency, housing and health-related quality of life: results from the Positive Spaces, Healthy Places study
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Studies of people living with HIV who are homeless or unstably housed show a high prevalence of food insufficiency (>50%) and associated poor health outcomes; however, most evidence is in the form of cross-sectional studies. To better understand this issue, we conducted a longitudinal study to examine the impact of food insufficiency and housing instability on overall physical and mental health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among people living with HIV in Ontario. Six hundred and two adults living with HIV were enrolled in the Positive Spaces, Healthy Places study and followed from 2006 to 2009. Interviewer-administered questionnaires were used, and generalized linear mixed-effects models constructed to examine longitudinal associations between food insufficiency, housing instability and physical and mental HRQoL. At baseline, 57% of participants were classified as food insufficient. After adjusting for potential confounders, longitudinal analyses revealed a significant, negative association between food insufficiency and physical and mental HRQoL outcomes, respectively [effect size (ES) with 95% confidence interval (CI): (ES = -2.1, CI = -3.9,-0.3); (ES = -3.5, CI = -6.1,-1.5)]. Furthermore, difficulties meeting housing costs were shown to have additional negative impacts on mental HRQoL. Food insufficiency is highly prevalent among people living with HIV in Ontario, particularly for those with unstable housing. This vulnerable group of individuals is in urgent need of changes to current housing programmes, services and policies, as well as careful consideration of their unmet nutritional needs.
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