Sexual Health news - HIV

Poverty has a negative impact on HIV treatment


A study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, determined that simply providing antiretroviral medication to homeless or unstably housed men who are HIV positive isn't enough to ensure adherence, and therefore effectiveness, of the drugs.

The researchers followed 288 HIV-positive men for six years. All of the participants had been found at homeless shelters, free meal programs or in single-room occupancy hotels for people with low or no income.

A total of 20 percent of the men had recently experienced homelessness, and more than one-third were coping with the symptoms of chronic illness.

The research team discovered that when basic living needs for food, shelter, clothing and hygiene were scarce, the men were less likely to adhere to their antiretroviral medication – which has been shown to both prolong the life of an HIV-positive person and reduce their risk of spreading the virus.

"This study shows that a simple focus on providing medications will neither effectively treat nor end HIV in inner cities.  A person’s ability to get needed care and take medications becomes less of a priority when they don’t have food or a place to sleep," said principal investigator Elise Riley, Ph.D.

She added that efforts to provide job and housing opportunities to impoverished people living with HIV may help them improve their medication adherence, which may ultimately lead to better public health. Additionally, it's generally recommended that high-risk groups receive education on the basics of safer sex.

The study authors cited findings from an earlier trial published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. This research showed that a person's access to basic needs can be an accurate predictor of their overall health status.