Medication adherence challenges among HIV positive substance abusers: The role of food and housing insecurity

Hilary L. Surratt, Catherine L. O'Grady, Maria A. Levi-Minzi, Steven P. Kurtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


This study examines the prevalence of food/housing insecurity and its association with psychological, behavioral, and environmental factors impacting antiretroviral (ARV) medication adherence and diversion among substance using HIV+ patients in South Florida. Five hundred and three HIV+ substance abusers were recruited through targeted sampling. Participants completed a standardized instrument assessing demographics, mental health status, sex risk behaviors, HIV diagnosis, treatment history and access, ARV adherence and diversion, and attitudes toward health-care providers. Chisquare and t-tests were used to examine differences by food/housing status and a multivariate linear regression model examined food/housing insecurity and its associations to ARV adherence. Food/housing insecurity was reported by 43.3% of the sample and was associated with higher likelihood of severe psychological distress and substance dependence. Nearly 60% reported recent ARV diversion; only 47.2% achieved 95% medication adherence over one week. Food/housing insecure participants had deficits in their HIV care, including less time in consistent care, lower access to medical care, and less favorable attitudes toward care providers. Multivariate linear regression showed food/housing insecurity demonstrated significant main effects on adherence, including lower past week adherence. Medication diversion was also associated with reduced adherence. Our findings suggest that food/housing insecurity operates as a significant driver of ARV non-adherence and diversion in this population. In the pursuit of better long-term health outcomes for vulnerable HIV+ individuals, it is essential for providers to understand the role of food and housing insecurity as a stressor that negatively impacts ARVadherence and treatment access, while also significantly contributing to higher levels of distress and substance dependence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-314
Number of pages8
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 4 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Taylor & Francis.


  • ARV adherence
  • Food and housing insecurity
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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