HIV; obesity; Hispanics; Body Image; Lifestyle modifications


Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Infectious Disease | Other Anthropology | Virus Diseases


Objective: Obesity is rising in people with HIV (PLWH) and Hispanics. Both HIV and obesity are associated with cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. Our goal is to understand perceptions of body image and lifestyle in Hispanics with HIV to adapt interventions appropriately.

Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 22 Hispanic PLWH and 6 providers. Purposive sampling selected patient participants across weights and genders. Interviews were coded and analyzed using grounded theory, comparing perspectives between patients with and without obesity, and patients and providers.

Results: Participants felt obesity and diabetes were “normal” in the community. Patients exhibited understanding of healthy diet and lifestyle but felt incapable of maintaining either. Traditionally Hispanic foods were blamed for local obesity prevalence. Five patients equated weight with health and weight loss with illness, and four expressed concerns that weight loss could lead to unintentional disclosure of HIV status. Participants with overweight or obesity expressed awareness of their weight and felt shamed by providers. Providers found weight loss interventions to be ineffective.

Conclusion: Interventions in this population must address identified barriers: overweight/obesity as a normative value, lack of self-efficacy, cultural beliefs surrounding food, fear of HIV-associated weight loss and stigma, and provider perspectives on intervention futility.