Perceptions and Determinants of Healthy Eating for People with HIV in the Dominican Republic Who Experience Food Insecurity

Published in: Public Health Nutrition (2020). doi: 10.1017/S1368980020002694

Posted on RAND.org on October 07, 2020

by Deshira Wallace, Denise Diaz Payan, Amarilis Then-Paulino, Gabriela Armenta, Maria Altagracia Fulcar, Ramon Acevedo, Kathryn Pitkin Derose

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Objective

The current study aimed to understand how moderate and severe food-insecure people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the Dominican Republic perceive a healthy diet and explore facilitators and barriers to engaging in healthy dietary behaviours as a means of HIV self-management.

Design

We conducted semi-structured interviews with PLHIV. We generated codes on food insecurity among PLHIV and used content analysis to organise codes for constant comparison between and within participants.

Setting

Two urban HIV clinics in the Dominican Republic.

Participants

Thirty-two PLHIV participated in the interviews.

Results

Factors that contributed to dietary behaviours include individual factors, such as knowledge of nutrition, views and attitudes on healthy dietary behaviours, beliefs about dietary needs for PLHIV and diet functionality. Interpersonal factors, including assistance from family and peers in providing food or funds, were deemed critical along with community and organisational factors, such as food assistance from HIV clinics, accessibility to a variety of food store types and the availability of diverse food options at food stores. Policy-level factors that influenced dietary behaviours were contingent on respondents' participation in the labour market (i.e. whether they were employed) and consistent access to government assistance. Food insecurity influenced these factors through unpredictability and a lack of control.

Conclusions

PLHIV who experience food insecurity face various barriers to engaging in healthy dietary behaviours. Their diets are influenced at multiple levels of influence ranging from individual to structural, requiring multi-level interventions that can address these factors concurrently.

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