Online Program

Improving HIV viral load among homeless and unstably housed persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 5:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Lawanda Williams, MSW, LCSW-C, DrPH(c), Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Issues: HIV/AIDS continues to impact millions of people worldwide. In the US alone, there are approximately 1.2 million people aged 13 and older living with HIV. Additionally, the incidence of HIV is quite alarming. Most recent CDC HIV surveillance data reports 48,100 new cases of HIV in 2009.

HIV disproportionately affects homeless populations. Despite efforts expended to develop services and programs to improve access to care for PLWHA, homelessness serves as a barrier to optimal utilization. Persons struggling with recurrent bouts of housing insecurity are more susceptible to HIV infections and behaviors that fuel the spread of HIV.

Description: Health Care for the Homeless recognized the need in Baltimore City for specialized services to address the comprehensive medical and social needs of PLWHA through its creation of the Connect Project. Dedicated to the provision of medically-related case management services than transcend the medical clinic, many services are provided in-home or at other community-based locations. In its efforts to improve housing and HIV-related health outcomes for participants, a team approach is utilized similar to those observed within the framework of a PCMH model.

Lessons Learned: Lessons learned includes knowledge that housing is health care. Individuals, when engaged through a comprehensive team approach, can realize housing stability and improved HIV health outcomes.

Recommendations: Despite the recognition that housing is positively associated with improvement in clinical health measures, housing options for the poor and homeless remain sparse. Increased collaborations between community-based agencies and housing entities, as well as enhanced funding, are desperately warranted.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Discuss Connect Project as a Patient-Centered Medical Home model for homeless and unstably housed PLWHA. Describe the epidemiology of HIV and homelessness among partcipants of the Connect Project. Compare the distribution of characteristic between housed and homeless program participants. List the co-morbid conditions that coexist with HIV and homelessness. Explain the association between housing attainment and reduced HIV viral load.

Keyword(s): HIV/AIDS, Homeless Health Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a licensed social worker since 2009 and have been providing case management services to PLWHA for the past 9 years. Since 2010, I have been employed with Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore City. As a case manager with the Connect Project, I have been charged with providing medical social work services to homeless and marginally housed PLWHA, who are also experiencing a number of co-morbidities.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Health Care for the Homeless case management Employment (includes retainer)

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.