Best Practices for Improving HIV Care for Homeless Populations

Posted on: December 20, 2018 Topics: affordable housing, HIV treatment, HIV/AIDS, homelessness

Cover of AJPH Supplement, showing a doctor's hand in latex glove holding a house, with a heart in the houseThe American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) supplemental December 2018 issue, “Medical Home for HIV-Positive, Multiply-Diagnosed Homeless Populations,” features research by School of Public Health researchers in an updated examination of people living with HIV and homelessness, and strategies for public health and social service professionals to improve their health.

The issue includes findings and recommendations from the Medical Home HIV Evaluation & Resource Team (Med-HEART) project, a five-year partnership between SPH, the School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation in Social Work and Health (CISWH), and Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.

“The results of the Med-HEART study illustrate the importance of considering the social and psychological aspects of the lives of homeless people living with HIV when designing and implementing interventions to improve their health and quality of life,” says Howard Cabral, professor of biostatistics and lead SPH collaborator on Med-HEART.

Funded through the US Department of Health and Human Services, Med-HEART evaluated nine demonstration sites across the US as they participated in interventions to improve HIV care and housing stability. These interventions included partnerships between HIV services and housing providers, integrated behavioral health and HIV services, and network navigators—members of the health care team who worked one-on-one with clients to improve access to HIV care, housing, and support services.

“The results of the study show that this integration can be effective in retaining homeless people living with HIV in primary care, and to improve their health and quality of life,” Cabral says.

The articles in this AJPH supplement highlight best practices and lessons learned from Med-HEART on a range of topics, including the impact of housing on HIV care, stigma reduction, determinants of housing stability, patient-centered care, patients living with multiple comorbidities, rural patient considerations, and more.

The other SPH collaborators on Med-HEART are Alexander de Groot, Emily Sisson, and Karen Fortu of the Biostatistics and Epidemiology Data Analytics Center. Sara Bachman, professor of social research at SSW and research professor of health law, policy & management at SPH, is the collaborator for SSW. Med-HEART is led by Serena Rajabiun, research assistant professor at SSW.

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