UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Finding safe spaces : historical trauma, housing status, and HIV vulnerability among young Aboriginal people who use illicit drugs Jongbloed, Kate


Background: Dispossession and dislocation of Aboriginal people in Canada through the reserve, residential school and child welfare systems have contributed to the gross overrepresentation of HIV/AIDS infection, substance use, and housing instability in Aboriginal communities. Ensuring young Aboriginal people who use illicit drugs have access to safe spaces, including places to live, is a fundamental part of dismantling structural injustices that lead to their elevated vulnerability to HIV infection. Objective: This thesis investigates access to safe spaces among young Aboriginal men and women who use illicit drugs in Vancouver and Prince George, British Columbia, Canada within the context of historical and intergenerational trauma. It examines how accessibility of safe spaces, and housing in particular, affects young Aboriginal people’s vulnerability to HIV infection. Methods: Baseline categorical variables were compared based on participants’ housing status using Pearson’s Chi-squared test and Fisher’s exact tests when expected cell values were five or less. Continuous variables were analyzed using a Student t test and all p values are two sided. Longitudinal analyses utilized data collected every six-months between November 2005 and January 2010. Generalized linear mixed models fitted with a Gauss-Hermite approximation were used to find odds ratio (ORs) for associations between trauma, housing status, and sex- and drug-related HIV vulnerabilities over time. Results: We found an independent association between historical trauma and housing status: childhood sexual abuse was independently associated with 2.76 greater odds of living in an unstable type of housing over the study period. We uncovered important associations between sub-optimal housing status and drug- and sex-related HIV vulnerability, including sex work, sexual assault, use of injection drugs, high frequency opiate and cocaine injection, and public injection. Conclusions: Our findings reveal that both material and spatial dimensions of housing are closely linked to HIV vulnerability among young Aboriginal people. Further, the links between housing status and historical trauma indicate that addressing the legacy of historical trauma is a crucial component of tackling the underlying causes of housing instability among young Aboriginal people who use illicit drugs.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International