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Antiretroviral treatment for HIV reduces food insecurity, reports AIDS Journal
Date:12/4/2012

of severe food insecurity had decreased to 13 percent of the ART group versus 18 percent in the non-ART group.

Examination of other variables gave insight into the "pathway" by which ART may lead to improved food security. Patients starting antiretroviral drugs had greater improvements in work status and in mental healthparticularly decreased scores for depression. Although physical health also improved during treatmentwith or without ARTthis did not seem to contribute to the reduction in food insecurity.

Changing the 'Vicious Cycle' to an 'Upward Spiral'

Researchers are just beginning to explore the socioeconomic and psychological benefits of ART for HIV-infected patients. In developing countries such as Uganda, food insecurity is a common problem with important effects on health. Previous studies have shown that patients with food insecurity are less likely to follow up with recommended treatment for HIV and have poorer treatment outcomes.

The new study provides evidence that starting treatment for HIVespecially treatment including ARTleads to improved food security. The reductions in food insecurity were achieved even though neither of the study clinics offered food assistance.

"Our results suggest that greater ability to work and reduced symptoms of depression may be the primary pathways through which ART improves food insecurity," Dr Palar and coauthors write. They suggest a "bidirectional relationship" between ART and food insecurity.

While ART alone can't solve the problem of food insecurity, the researchers believe that policymakers should consider interventions to halt the "vicious cycle" by which HIV leads to worsening social and economic outcomes. Dr Palar and colleagues conclude, "Well-integrated and implemented interventions in the context of comprehensive care have the potential to produce an 'upward spiral' where food security and ART can mutually reinforce each other for the benefit of a
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Contact: Connie Hughes
Connie.Hughes@wolterskluwer.com
646-674-6348
Wolters Kluwer Health
Source:Eurekalert

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