A Pre-Post Pilot Study of Peer Nutritional Counseling and Food Insecurity and Nutritional Outcomes Among Antiretroviral Therapy Patients in Honduras

Published in: BMC Nutrition, v. 1, no. 21, Oct. 2015, p. 1-8

Posted on RAND.org on November 20, 2015

by Kathryn Pitkin Derose, Melissa Felician, Bing Han, Kartika Palar, Blanca Ramirez, Hugo Farias, Homero Martinez

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BACKGROUND: Food insecurity and poor nutrition are key barriers to anti-retroviral therapy (ART) adherence. Culturally-appropriate and sustainable interventions that provide nutrition counseling for people on ART and of diverse nutritional statuses are needed, particularly given rising rates of overweight and obesity among people living with HIV (PLHIV). METHODS: As part of scale-up of a nutritional counseling intervention, we recruited and trained 17 peer counselors from 14 government-run HIV clinics in Honduras to deliver nutritional counseling to ART patients using a highly interactive curriculum that was developed after extensive formative research on locally available foods and dietary patterns among PLHIV. All participants received the intervention; at baseline and 2 month follow-up, assessments included: 1) interviewer-administered, in-person surveys to collect data on household food insecurity (15-item scale), nutritional knowledge (13-item scale), dietary intake and diversity (number of meals and type and number of food groups consumed in past 24 h); and 2) anthropometric measures (body mass index or BMI, mid-upper arm and waist circumferences). We used multivariable linear regression analysis to examine changes pre-post in food insecurity and the various nutritional outcomes while controlling for baseline characteristics and clinic-level clustering. RESULTS: Of 482 participants at baseline, we had complete follow-up data on 356 (74 %), of which 62 % were women, median age was 39, 34 % reported having paid work, 52 % had completed primary school, and 34 % were overweight or obese. In multivariate analyses adjusting for gender, age, household size, work status, and education, we found that between baseline and follow-up, household food insecurity decreased significantly among all participants (??= −0.47, p < .05) and among those with children under 18 (??= −1.16, p < .01), while nutritional knowledge and dietary intake and diversity also significantly improved, (??= 0.88, p < .001; ??= 0.30, p < .001; and ??= 0.15, p < .001, respectively). Nutritional status (BMI, mid-arm and waist circumferences) showed no significant changes, but the brief follow-up period may not have been sufficient to detect changes. CONCLUSIONS: A peer-delivered nutritional counseling intervention for PLHIV was associated with improvements in dietary quality and reduced food insecurity among a population of diverse nutritional statuses. Future research should examine if such an intervention can improve adherence among people on ART.

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