Homelessness, Housing, and HIV: What are the Connections?

Aug 14, 2014

There's a connection between homeless and those affected by HIV. Can housing programs change that?
Credit ttfnrob, flickr

Earlier this week, we heard about the effectiveness of one Milwaukee-based organization in helping the quality of life for AIDS patients.  The strength of the work of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin lies in its so-called “medical home” model, in which a variety of services, from medical care to pharmacy to mental health support, are provided under one roof. But reaching and helping people with HIV and AIDS can be especially challenging, when we’re talking about the homeless population.

In recent years, a variety of supporting housing programs have evolved in an effort to help homeless people live longer, healthier lives with HIV. But little is known about how well those programs work.

Two Milwaukee researchers are hoping to find the answers.  Julia Dickson-Gomez and Steven Pinkerton are scientists with the Center for AIDS Intervention Research, and recipients of a $3.1 million federal grant from the National Institutes of Health to study housing, homelessness, and AIDS.

The two joined Lake Effect’s Mitch Teich in the studio, and Dickson-Gomez explained what we do know already about the link between homelessness and AIDS.

"The homeless are about 16 times more likely to become infected with HIV than people who are not homeless," says Dickson-Gomez.  "We also know that among people who are already infected with HIV, about half of them have reported housing needs."