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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Florida International: Researcher to Investigate Health Disparities Faced by Women Living with HIV Who Experience Homelessness

For people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), lack of stable housing can be a significant barrier to medical care, adherence to antiretroviral medication, and viral suppression. In Miami-Dade County, lack of affordable housing and expensive rental markets, coupled with large proportions of people living with HIV who are uninsured and live in poverty, make for a challenging HIV care landscape. In Miami-Dade County, the majority of women living with HIV are racial/ ethnic minorities, many of whom live in poverty. To promote viral suppression among women in Miami-Dade and to improve national HIV outcomes, strategies must be geared to address the situations of these women particularly Black/African American, Hispanic, and Black/ Haitian women who are living with HIV.

“The evidence is pretty clear that individuals who experience homelessness or are unstably housed have worse outcomes in HIV care and treatment” said Dr. Sofia B. Fernandez, post-doctoral associate in Stempel College’s FIU-Research Center in Minority Institutions (RCMI). “Yet, issues related to housing instability are often overlooked and can be difficult to detect. This can be particularly true for women who often experience less obvious forms of homelessness and housing instability such as staying in overcrowded homes, moving frequently, and exchanging sex for shelter.”

Dr. Fernandez was recently awarded a two-year period of support from the National Institute of Health (NIH) for her research focusing on improving health outcomes among women living with HIV who experience homelessness and housing instability. The project was awarded as a supplement to an existing grant, led by Dr. Mary Jo Trepka.

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