Poverty, unstable housing, and HIV infection among women living in the United States

Women who are HIV positive incur a higher risk of mortality than men who are HIV positive, a difference which is primarily based in the social context of poverty. Economic crises that lead to homelessness, unmet subsistence needs, and sex exchange often reorder priorities among women with HIV infection, de-emphasizing consistent medical care or the use of antiretroviral therapy. High rates of mental illness, drug use, and victimization further increase health and safety risks. HIV prevention messages highlighting education and behavior change insufficiently address the predicament of indigent women where constrained survival choices in the context of poverty may take precedence over safe behaviors. In this article, we highlight the risks of poor and unstably housed women to clarify the context in which risks occur. Suggestions for service provision are offered with the understanding that providers may have limited time and expertise to meet the entire array of needs for impoverished women.

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Current HIV/Aids Reports