A Dispatch from the International AIDS Conference

written by naehblog
July 27, 2012

Today’s guest blog is from Nancy Bernstine, executive director of the National AIDS Housing Coalition.

Today the International AIDS Conference (IAC), which is being held in the U.S. for the first time in 22 years, is concluding.

This convening  of 20,000 people from across the world gave us an opportunity to explore the global dimensions of housing for people with HIV-AIDS.  The National AIDS Housing Coalition (NAHC) and our Canadian partners, the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), are pleased to have sponsored an affiliated independent event, the International Leadership Summit on Housing on July 21 at the World Bank’s Preston Auditorium.

Housing remains the most critical need of people with HIV-AIDS living in the United States. The Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS program (HOPWA) serves about 60,000 households, but according to grantee reports, more than 145,000 people who are in need of housing assistance still go unserved.

Research on housing and people living with HIV-AIDS (much of which has been presented through the Housing and HIV-AIDS Research Summit series) documents improved health care outcomes for people with HIV-AIDS who are challenged by poverty, homelessness and stigma. Research also has shown that housing assistance can be a cost-effective health care intervention for people with HIV-AIDS, with a cost “per quality-adjusted life year” in the same range as such widely accepted health care practices as mammography and renal dialysis.

The purpose of our summit was to bring together, from every continent, researchers, policy makers, service providers and people living with HIV-AIDS, to share and discuss research findings and policy initiatives that address the global challenges presented by housing instability. The attendance of many participants from Kenya, Nigeria, Haiti, India , and Ecuador the Philippines was made possible by scholarships awarded by the NAHC.

Summit keynote speakers included Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, and Paul Delay, deputy director, as well as Stephen Lewis, cofounder and co-director of AIDS-Free World. All speakers acknowledged the importance of housing in the global response to the epidemic, and several suggested strategies for more fully integrating housing in the millennium goals now being formulated by the United Nations to guide the global response to HIV after 2015.

Summit leaders focused on the roles of poverty, housing insecurity and other social drivers of the ongoing AIDS crisis. Topics included housing status as a predictor of HIV risk; treatment and mortality; rights-based advocacy for housing; as well as the provision of housing for everyone, including orphans, drug-users and sex workers.

The goal of the Housing Summit was to build upon the work of six previous Research Summits to construct a platform that invites the development of research; internationalizes the research and policy agenda; and develops new partners and enhanced support for structural HIV prevention and care interventions in a global context. More information from the Summit will be posted to the permanent website www.hivhousingsummit.org.

The next Summit is scheduled for Montreal in September 2013.