HOMELESSNESS & HIV/AIDS STATISTICS

 

Increasing rates of homelessness contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over one million individuals are living with HIV/AIDS in America and 50% of those infected are homeless or at risk of homelessness.[i] In 2006, The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimated that 3.4% of homeless people were HIV positive, compared to .4% of adults in the general population.[ii] Individuals experiencing homelessness are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors (i.e. substance abuse, unprotected sex with multiple partners), which make them susceptible to contracting the virus. Numerous studies have shown that securing permanent housing is associated with a decrease in risk behaviors.[iii]

 

 

HEALTH RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH HOMELESSNESS & HIV/AIDS

Homeless individuals living with HIV/AIDS face considerable challenges in managing their health. Living conditions associated with homelessness make adhering to complex medical regimens extremely difficult. Most shelters have limited hours and patrons are forced to spend large periods of time outside where they may be exposed to cold and rainy weather. Homeless people often suffer from malnutrition and poor hygiene and are 3-6 times more likely to become ill than people in housing.  As HIV/AIDS weakens the immune system, HIV positive homeless people have a diminished ability to fight off disease and are at even greater risk for illness. Crowded shelters with poor ventilation can endanger people living with HIV/AIDS by exposing them to infections like Hepatitis A, pneumonia, and tuberculosis.[iv]

 

Compared to stably housed people living with HIV/AIDS, homeless people experience worse physical and mental health, have lower CD4 counts and higher viral loads, and are less likely to adhere to antiretroviral therapy.[v] A vital component of HIV/AIDS care is housing, which provides a place to store medication and food, a dependable contact location, and emotional security.[vi]

 

 

 

 

 


[i] “HIV/AIDS & Homelessness,” National Coalition to End Homelessness, accessed April 17, 2013, http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/hiv.html.

[ii] “Fact Sheet: Homelessness and HIV/AIDS,” National Alliance to End Homelessness, accessed April 17, 2013, http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/fact-sheet-homelessness-and-hiv-aids.

[iii] “HIV/AIDS & Homelessness,” National Coalition to End Homelessness, accessed April 17, 2013, http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/hiv.html.

[iv] “HIV/AIDS & Homelessness,” National Coalition to End Homelessness, accessed April 17, 2013, http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/hiv.html.

[v] “HIV/AIDS Housing, Breaking the Link Between Homelessness and HIV,” National AIDS Housing Coalition, accessed April 17, 2013, http://www.nationalaidshousing.org/PDF/breakinglink.pdf.

[vi] “HIV/AIDS & Homelessness,” National Coalition to End Homelessness, accessed April 17, 2013, http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/hiv.html.