Leber, Julie
DeHaven, Mark


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Purpose (a): A balanced diet and good nutrition help maintain a strong immune system for resisting disease and contribute to improved quality of life. Weight loss, wasting, and malnutrition are common problems which can contribute to HIV disease progression. With recent advances in effective antiretroviral medications, good nutrition can help those infected with HIV to better process their many medications. Diet (and exercise) may help control other symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and fatigue, and other metabolic abnormalities such as high blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides. The purpose of this project was to assess the behaviors, knowledge, and attitudes related to modifiable lifestyle factors for improving health outcomes among residents of an HIV/AIDS living facility in Fort Worth (Samaritan House). This study will provide the baseline for understanding the potential value in making future nutritional interventions within the living facility. Methods (b): The Samaritan House in Fort Worth is dedicated to creating a supportive community providing housing and resources for positive change in the lives of persons living with HIV/AIDS and other special needs. A conglomerate of validated questionnaires was administered to Samaritan House residents in order to assess their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors with regards to nutrition, physical activity, depression, and smoking. Results (c): Results showed that residents intake patterns did not meet the dietary recommendations with regards to fat, fruits, vegetables, and fiber, and that the majority of residents worry considerably about their health but do not change their eating habits because of it. The majority of residents answered that motivations for healthy behavior were driven by internal rather than external factors. 64% screened positive for depression. 54% were active smokers, but 41% had tried to quit in the past year. With regards to physical activity, 33% of residents had a high level, 33% had a medium level, and 33% had a low level. Conclusions (d): Nutritional and lifestyle renovation are a potential source of improvement at Samaritan House. This results of this study will be used to provide a foundation by which later studies can be conducted that examine the effects of dietary interventions (through education and influence of the charitable donations providing food) on the holistic health of this population, which will serve to improve the quality of life and prevention of disease.