Better understanding of housing may help minimise HIV risk

Better understanding of housing may help minimise HIV risk

New York, Aug 21 (IANS) Understanding housing background and the multiple dimensions of homelessness can help better identify who might be at greater risk of transmitting or contracting HIV, says a new study.

The study, published in the Journal of HIV/AIDS and Social Work, highlighted the link between homeless and HIV-risk behaviours.

The research looked specifically at residents of single-room occupancy (SRO) housing as they considered themselves homeless, even though they have a place to live, because of uncertainly derived from factors that include concerns about rent increases and an inability to continue to afford even minimal housing such as an SRO.

“It’s a transient population that’s bouncing into and out of SRO buildings and other locations, such as staying in overnight shelters or on the street. But on the other end is the long-term resident, who may have been stably housed for 20 years,” said Elizabeth Bowen, Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo.

When thinking about how to help minimise HIV risk, the researchers mentioned that it’s important to target the right people.

“The long-term residents might need help in other areas, but the research suggests that they’re not engaging in the same risky behaviours, such as drug use or having multiple sexual partners, as the residents who had been homeless more recently or who still considered themselves to be homeless,” Bowen added.

This information is critical to social workers trying to identify who might be most in need of help.

Bowen said the link between health and housing goes beyond HIV to include many chronic long-term health issues, both physical and mental.

SROs might be affordable, but the rent for this type of housing still represents a large percentage of a resident’s income, which is often exclusively Supplemental Security Income.

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