UCSF home page UCSF home page About UCSF UCSF Medical Center
UCSF navigation bar

Faculty Profiles

Kartika Palar, PhD
Assistant Professor

1001 Potrero Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110


My research focuses on addressing the drivers and consequences of health inequity in HIV and chronic disease. One stream of research investigates the impact of food insecurity and other unmet subsistence needs on health. A new stream of research examines the intersection of HIV, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and social determinants of health. Within these areas, I have a special interest in developing equitable community partnerships to design and evaluate program and policy solutions. I am interested in both safety-net interventions that address immediate needs, as well as policies that address upstream root causes of health inequity.

Current studies fall within one or more of the above research streams. I am PI of the 5-year NIH-funded Women, HIV/AIDS and Diabetes Study, or WAND Study, based within the US national Women's Interagency HIV Study. WAND is using both qualitative and quantitative methods to understand the impact of social and economic barriers on HIV and diabetes health among women living with both conditions, with the goal of developing an intervention to improve HIV/diabetes co-management among women experiencing multiple vulnerabilities. I am also co-PI of the Changing Health through Food Support (CHEFS) Study, an RCT of comprehensive, medically appropriate food support to low-income, people with HIV in the San Francisco Bay Area in collaboration with Project Open Hand. I am co-leading the development of a community-based collaboration to evaluate urban gardens as a strategy to improve health among low-income people with diabetes in the Bay Area, and am involved with an urban garden intervention for people with HIV in the Dominican Republic. I am a co-investigator or collaborator on several other projects addressing food insecurity and health, and/or HIV/NCD co-morbidity, domestically and abroad.

My international work is largely based in Latin America, in collaboration with the World Food Programme and others. Finally, I have a strong commitment and passion for mentoring students and others with interest in issues of health equity, particularly those with backgrounds underrepresented in scientific research.

Education and Training

Location Degree or Training Specialty Date
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Postdoctoral Fellowship - Social/Behavioral HIV Research Division of HIV, ID and Global Medicine 2015
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Postdoctoral Fellowship - Health Services Research UCLA School of Public Health, Dept of Health Policy and Mgmt 2014
RAND Corporation PhD - Policy Analysis Pardee RAND Graduate School 2012
Tufts University MA - International Affairs Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy 2006
Brown University BA - Development Studies & Ethnic Studies 2001


HIV, chronic disease, community-based research, diabetes, food insecurity, health equity, multimorbidity, nutrition, social determinants of health

Awards and Honors
2017   Early Career Award of Excellence in Behavioral Research, UCSF-Gladstone Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), 2017

Awarded Grants

Project Title Project Number Fiscal Year
Identifying barriers to diabetes and HIV co-management in vulnerable populations K01DK107335 2020
Recent Articles (26)

Spinelli MA, Frongillo EA, Sheira LA, Palar K, Tien PC, Wilson T, Merenstein D, Cohen M, Adedimeji A, Wentz E, Adimora AA, Metsch LR, Turan JM, Kushel MB, Weiser SD. Food Insecurity is Associated with Poor HIV Outcomes Among Women in the United States. AIDS Behav. 2017 Nov 08.

Whittle HJ, Palar K, Ranadive NA, Turan JM, Kushel M, Weiser SD. "The land of the sick and the land of the healthy": Disability, bureaucracy, and stigma among people living with poverty and chronic illness in the United States. Soc Sci Med. 2017 Oct; 190:181-189.

Derose KP, Ríos-Castillo I, Fulcar MA, Payán DD, Palar K, Escala L, Farías H, Martínez H. Severe food insecurity is associated with overweight and increased body fat among people living with HIV in the Dominican Republic. AIDS Care. 2017 Jul 06; 1-9.

Palar K, Napoles T, Hufstedler LL, Seligman H, Hecht FM, Madsen K, Ryle M, Pitchford S, Frongillo EA, Weiser SD. Comprehensive and Medically Appropriate Food Support Is Associated with Improved HIV and Diabetes Health. J Urban Health. 2017 Feb; 94(1):87-99.

Whittle HJ, Palar K, Seligman HK, Napoles T, Frongillo EA, Weiser SD. How food insecurity contributes to poor HIV health outcomes: Qualitative evidence from the San Francisco Bay Area. Soc Sci Med. 2016 Dec; 170:228-236.

Palar K, Laraia B, Tsai AC, Johnson MO, Weiser SD. Food insecurity is associated with HIV, sexually transmitted infections and drug use among men in the United States. AIDS. 2016 Jun 01; 30(9):1457-65.

Whittle HJ, Palar K, Napoles T, Hufstedler LL, Ching I, Hecht FM, Frongillo EA, Weiser SD. Experiences with food insecurity and risky sex among low-income people living with HIV/AIDS in a resource-rich setting. J Int AIDS Soc. 2015; 18:20293.

Derose KP, Felician M, Han B, Palar K, Ramírez B, Farías H, Martínez H. A pre-post pilot study of peer nutritional counseling and food insecurity and nutritional outcomes among antiretroviral therapy patients in Honduras. BMC Nutr. 2015; 1.

Whittle HJ, Palar K, Hufstedler LL, Seligman HK, Frongillo EA, Weiser SD. Food insecurity, chronic illness, and gentrification in the San Francisco Bay Area: An example of structural violence in United States public policy. Soc Sci Med. 2015 Oct; 143:154-61.

Palar K, Kushel M, Frongillo EA, Riley ED, Grede N, Bangsberg D, Weiser SD. Food Insecurity is Longitudinally Associated with Depressive Symptoms Among Homeless and Marginally-Housed Individuals Living with HIV. AIDS Behav. 2015 Aug; 19(8):1527-34.

Palar K, Derose KP, Linnemayr S, Smith A, Farías H, Wagner G, Martinez H. Impact of food support on food security and body weight among HIV antiretroviral therapy recipients in Honduras: a pilot intervention trial. AIDS Care. 2015; 27(4):409-15.

Mendel P, Derose KP, Werber L, Palar K, Kanouse DE, Mata M. Facilitators and barriers to HIV activities in religious congregations: perspectives of clergy and lay leaders from a diverse urban sample. J Relig Health. 2014 Oct; 53(5):1472-86.

Martinez H, Palar K, Linnemayr S, Smith A, Derose KP, Ramírez B, Farías H, Wagner G. Tailored nutrition education and food assistance improve adherence to HIV antiretroviral therapy: evidence from Honduras. AIDS Behav. 2014 Oct; 18 Suppl 5:S566-77.

Weiser SD, Palar K, Frongillo EA, Tsai AC, Kumbakumba E, Depee S, Hunt PW, Ragland K, Martin J, Bangsberg DR. Longitudinal assessment of associations between food insecurity, antiretroviral adherence and HIV treatment outcomes in rural Uganda. AIDS. 2014 Jan 02; 28(1):115-20.

Palar K, Mendel P, Derose KP. The organization of HIV and other health activities within urban religious congregations. J Urban Health. 2013 Oct; 90(5):922-33.

Palar K, Martin A, Oropeza Camacho ML, Derose KP. Livelihood experiences and adherence to HIV antiretroviral therapy among participants in a food assistance pilot in Bolivia: a qualitative study. PLoS One. 2013; 8(4):e61935.

Linnemayr S, Ryan GW, Liu J, Palar K. Value for Money in Donor HIV Funding. Rand Health Q. 2012; 1(4):2.

Palar K, Wagner G, Ghosh-Dastidar B, Mugyenyi P. Role of antiretroviral therapy in improving food security among patients initiating HIV treatment and care. AIDS. 2012 Nov 28; 26(18):2375-81.

Linnemayr S, Ryan GW, Karir V, Liu J, Palar K. Negotiation Strategies for Antiretroviral Drug Purchasers in the United States. Rand Health Q. 2012; 2(3):7.

Bluthenthal RN, Palar K, Mendel P, Kanouse DE, Corbin DE, Derose KP. Attitudes and beliefs related to HIV/AIDS in urban religious congregations: barriers and opportunities for HIV-related interventions. Soc Sci Med. 2012 May; 74(10):1520-7.

Derose KP, Mendel PJ, Palar K, Kanouse DE, Bluthenthal RN, Castaneda LW, Corbin DE, Domínguez BX, Hawes-Dawson J, Mata MA, Oden CW. Religious congregations' involvement in HIV: a case study approach. AIDS Behav. 2011 Aug; 15(6):1220-32.

Williams MV, Palar K, Derose KP. Congregation-based programs to address HIV/AIDS: elements of successful implementation. J Urban Health. 2011 Jun; 88(3):517-32.

Martin A, Palar K, Derose KP, Adams J. . Food insecurity and nutritional barriers to antiretroviral therapy: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean. Journal of HIV/AIDS and Social Services. 2011; 2(10):194-214.

Palar K, Sturm R. Potential societal savings from reduced sodium consumption in the U.S. adult population. Am J Health Promot. 2009 Sep-Oct; 24(1):49-57.

Bentley TG, Effros RM, Palar K, Keeler EB. Waste in the U.S. Health care system: a conceptual framework. Milbank Q. 2008 Dec; 86(4):629-59.

  Select data provided by UCSF Profiles, powered by CTSI at UCSF. Learn more about the data source.