This week the International AIDS Conference was in Washington, DC for the first time in 22 years, shining a spotlight on HIV/AIDS both in America and around the world. For us at USICH, this conference also pointed to the topic of housing instability and homelessness among those with HIV/AIDS in America. There are more than 1 million people in the United States currently living with HIV/AIDS, and for those with low incomes or experiencing homelessness, managing the disease is complicated and expensive.
For individuals experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, they are at a higher risk of having HIV/AIDS and also at a higher risk of delaying diagnosis or treatment. The best way to manage HIV/AIDS is to ensure that those with the disease have access to safe and stable housing. The Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development is the largest federal program aimed at meeting the housing needs of those with HIV/AIDS. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS program at the Department of Health and Human Services provides funding for primary and specialized health care for low-income HIV-positive individuals.
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan wrote this blog on Tuesday about his Department’s commitment to housing low-income people with HIV/AIDS.
This week USICH also focused on another milestone: the 25th Anniversary of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987. This legislation was the first of its kind to mandate that the United States develop shelters and transitional housing, and provide health care and social services to individuals experiencing homelessness. USICH, along with many of our national partners, wrote their reflections on this Anniversary and how to propel our work forward.
Read USICH Executive Director Barbara Poppe’s blog: “So why no party?”
Finally, we also spent some time this week focusing on the ways the Affordable Care Act, particularly the expansion of Medicaid, will affect those experiencing homelessness. This was a hot topic at the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference last week, and it will continue to be, as each state now has the choice to expand Medicaid to all those under the established poverty thresholds in 2014. Access to mainstream resources like Medicaid is a key theme in Opening Doors, as a strong health care system is a component of homelessness prevention. With the ability to access reliable and consistent health care, those experiencing or at-risk of homelessness can prevent chronic diseases as well as reduce costs for the public sector by limiting their use of emergency rooms. The New England Journal of Medicine released a report this week on the ways Medicaid expansion saves lives for those previously uninsured.
Deputy Director Jennifer Ho blogs on how the Affordable Care Act will affect individuals experiencing homelessness and the provider community.
Some other clips from this week include:
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation writes on the need for integrating housing and community development initiatives with health care philanthropies and organizations; and
An in-depth look at a homeless court program in Salt Lake City