Date of Conferral
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) provides HIV-related medical and support services for uninsured and underinsured people living with HIV (PLWH) in the United States. In addition to HIV-related medical care, the program provides medical nutrition therapy and food assistance. The role of nutrition in the health of PLWH is well-documented, especially in resource poor areas; however, the role of medical nutrition therapy and food assistance provided through the RWHAP in resource rich areas is not well documented. This study addressed the association between the nutrition services of food assistance and medical nutrition therapy and the HIV-related health outcomes of viral suppression, retention in care, and CD4 counts. The behavioral model for vulnerable populations was used as the theoretical foundation for this quantitative cross-sectional study. A sample of 428 RWHAP clients was used from the Ryan White Services Report data. Pearson's chi-square was used to examine the association between medical nutrition therapy (MNT) and viral suppression. Findings indicated statistically significant associations between MNT and viral suppression, retention in care and any nutrition service (food assistance, MNT, or both), and MNT and retention in care. Implications for social change include emphasizing the role of nutrition services in HIV-related health outcomes for PLWH in resource rich areas.