Executive Director’s Message: World AIDS Day: Looking at Housing Barriers to HIV Wellness
On December 1st, L.A. CADA “Rocked the Red Ribbon” for World AIDS Day 2022. This year, the global awareness campaign focused on inequalities holding back progress in ending AIDS. When I think of the many barriers to care for persons living with HIV (PLWH), lack of stable housing is a big one.
In fact, homelessness is a strong predictor of poor health outcomes in the medical management of HIV. Persons experiencing homelessness present with higher rates of HIV infection, have a more difficult time staying in care and adhering to HIV medications, and they experience worse health outcomes. Dr. Julie Lifsbay of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation states, “The HIV rate among homeless people is incredibly high. And, homeless folks who are becoming infected with HIV are from more marginalized communities . . . they are more likely to be trans women, African American, people who use injection drugs, or men who have sex with men who use injection drugs”.
Here in L.A. County, sky-high rents, lack of affordable housing inventory, and behavioral health disorders are major barriers to stable housing. A substantial number of people living with HIV in the U.S. have spent time in prison or jail, including those with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders that complicate HIV care. A criminal history makes getting good employment and housing particularly difficult, contributing to the cycle of homelessness.
To address this issue, Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse has become a specialty provider of Recovery Bridge Housing; in fact we have the largest number of RBH beds in L.A. County. Bridge housing provides a supportive place for all the needed elements of recovery to take place: HIV care, behavioral health treatment, as well as the life skills education needed to support sustained recovery and stability. Our programs also address the unique needs of many marginalized PLWH, including provision of LGBTQ+ Affirming (exclusive) and LGBTQ+ Sensitive services, programs for sex offenders, and exclusive beds for Transitional Age Youth (TAY). With more in continuous development.
This World AIDS Day, if you know some living with HIV who needs help and housing, give them our number. L.A. CADA is here for you at (562) 906-2675.
Watch: The Integration of HIV and Behavioral Health Care