Exploring the intersection of food insecurity and violence among women in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS)

Award amount: 50,000.00

Anna Leddy, PhD, Recipient
Phyllis Tien, MD, Mentor

Food insecurity, which refers to having limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, and violence are prevalent among women in the United States, and disproportionately affect HIV-positive women. Both food insecurity and violence are associated with negative health behaviors and outcomes including HIV risk behaviors, chronic diseases, poor mental health, and reduced engagement in HIV care and treatment. Evidence suggests that food insecurity is associated with increased risk for intimate partner violence (IPV). However, limited research has qualitatively explored the mechanisms linking food insecurity to IPV. Such research is needed to inform interventions. Additionally, although evidence suggests that individuals who experience food insecurity and IPV report internalized stigma related to these experiences, which can prevent them from accessing support services, few studies have explored how these stigmas intersect to shape the lived experiences of women, and their ability to manage their health, including women living with HIV. Through a sample of women living with or at risk for HIV in San Francisco and Atlanta, the proposed research aims to explore the mechanisms linking food insecurity and violence, as well as the effect of intersecting stigmas related to food insecurity and violence on the lived experiences and HIV-related health outcomes among this population. The proposed research will take place from June 2018 - March 2019 and will utilize a sample of 24-30 women (half HIV-positive) enrolled in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) in San Francisco and Atlanta. Participants will be eligible to participate if they report experiences of IPV and food insecurity at their last two WIHS visits. Data will be analyzed using both deductive and inductive approaches. Findings will advance knowledge regarding how intersecting experiences of food insecurity and violence affect the lived experiences and HIV-related health outcomes in women in WIHS.