Homeless youth's overwhelming health burden: A review of the literature
Homelessness has reached epidemic proportions in Canada. Canadian children and adolescents are the most vulnerable because youth comprise the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. A systematic literature review was undertaken using MEDLINE, Web of Science and the Homeless Hub (www.homelesshub.ca) to encompass the time frame from January 1990 to June 2009. The following terms were used as key words: 'homelessness', 'homeless youth', 'poverty', 'street youth' and 'runaway'. The present review identified an intersection among education deficits, social service insufficiencies, and poor mental and physical health in homeless youth. Health care delivery to homeless youth was often nonanticipatory, inconsistent and perceived as discriminatory. However, street youth were identified as requiring health care for pregnancy, mental health concerns, sexually transmitted illnesses, respiratory conditions, substance abuse and a myriad of other illnesses. Plenty of work is still required to reduce health inequalities and improve the daily living conditions of Canadian youth living in poverty.
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