AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 783–791 | Cite as

Food Insecurity Is Associated with Cognitive Deficits Among HIV-Positive, But Not HIV-Negative, Individuals in a United States Sample

  • Andréa L. Hobkirk
  • Sheri L. Towe
  • Puja Patel
  • Christina S. Meade
Original Paper


People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in the United States (US) have disproportionately high rates of food insecurity (FI). In the general population, FI has been associated with cognitive impairment among older adults and may exacerbate HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. The current study assessed the effects of FI and HIV infection on the neuropsychological performance of 61 HIV-positive and 36 HIV-negative adults in the US. While the main effects were minimal, the interactive effects revealed that FI was related to deficits in speed of information processing, learning, memory, motor function, and overall cognitive impairment for the HIV-positive group, but not the HIV-negative group. The interactive effects remained after controlling for relevant sociodemographic characteristics. Although bidirectional associations cannot be ruled out in a cross-sectional study, the results suggest that FI may contribute to cognitive impairment among HIV-positive adults in the US. Given the high rates of socioeconomic disadvantage among PLWHA in the US, addressing FI as part of routine clinical care may be warranted.


HIV/AIDS Food insecurity Cognitive Neuropsychology Nutrition 



This study was funded by Grants K23-DA028660 and F32-DA038519 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. We would like to thank the staff and students who assisted with this project, and we are grateful to the participants who volunteered their time for this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants enrolled in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duke Global Health InstituteDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University School of MedicineDurhamUSA

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