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Lack of food increases hospital use by HIV-infected urban poor in SF
Date:8/22/2012

UCSF researchers found that poor HIV-infected individuals living in San Francisco are significantly more likely to visit emergency rooms and to have hospital stays if they lack access to food of sufficient quality and quantity for a healthy life.

"In the prior three months, a quarter of participants in the study reported an ER visit, and just over a tenth reported a hospitalization, which shows that we are dealing with a population with high levels of illness. But the food insecure people were even sicker than the food secure, which is consistent with their experiencing higher rates of chronic diseases," said the study's primary investigator, Sheri Weiser, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the UCSF HIV/AIDS Division at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.

The findings are published online on August 22, 2012 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The study recruited 347 HIV-infected urban poor participants living in substandard housing in San Francisco. To determine levels of food insecurity, the participants were questioned about their anxiety and uncertainty about their food supply, whether they were able to access sufficient quality and variety of food, and their experience of insufficient food intake and the physical consequences. Just over half of the group, 56 percent, was classified as food insecure. The entire cohort of food secure and food insecure individuals was followed for two years, looking at healthcare utilization as a primary outcome.

"Compared to food secure participants, the odds were approximately two times higher that a food insecure participant was hospitalized or that a food insecure participant had visited the ER over the study's time period," said Weiser. "For a long time we have known that adequate nutrition is crucial for HIV-positive patients to live long healthy lives. Our findings that food insecure individuals are also more likely to use costly services from h
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Contact: Jeff Sheehy
jsheehy@ari.ucsf.edu
415-597-8165
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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