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"I’d be dead without it" : persons living with HIV/AIDS describe the impact of adequate housing on their health and health practices Compton, Miranda

Abstract

There is a growing body of research connecting lack of housing to HIV vulnerability and disease progression. There is very little data addressing changes to health and behaviour once stable housing is obtained, and few studies incorporating the lived experience of persons living with HIVIAIDS (PHAs). A diverse group of 5 PHAs were asked to describe the impact of adequate housing on their health and health practices. All participants were living in poverty with HIV, and had experienced a significant period of housing instability before securing adequate housing. Minimally structured qualitative interviews were conducted to document each participant’s journey from unstable to stable housing, and the impact on their health along the way. A narrative approach to analysis was employed to provide a detailed depiction of each participant’s unique experience. Despite differences among participants, their stories were remarkably similar: All 5 participants referred to the life-prolonging impact of housing. Each described dramatically increased capacity for self determination, and increased control over health practices and daily decision-making upon securing adequate housing. A significant reduction in engagement in harmful activities, and increased engagement with healthcare providers, was described by all participants. Each also referred to enhanced life satisfaction and optimism for the future. The study illustrates the power of adequate housing to transform mental and physical health, and the importance of housing as a central component of HIVIAIDS prevention, treatment and care.

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