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Personal Story

'My Biggest Fear Isn't AIDS, It's Being Evicted From My Rent-Controlled Unit'

January 13, 2016

San Francisco buildings

With the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment hovering around $3,500 per month by latest estimates, housing is a top concern for many San Francisco residents, but especially so for those whose long personal histories tie them to the city -- such as long-term survivors living with HIV.

"My biggest fear isn't dying of AIDS, although that worry never goes away," said Jonathan*, a San Francisco resident who's lived in the city through the worst of the epidemic. "I have been living with HIV for more than 20 years and have been diagnosed with KS [Kaposi's sarcoma], but my biggest fear is being evicted from my rent-controlled apartment."

The San Francisco homeless point-in-time count and survey by Applied Survey Research counted 6,686 homeless people in San Francisco in 2015, with 7% reporting having AIDS or an HIV-related illness (about 486 people). The AIDS Housing Alliance of San Francisco reports that people with HIV are disproportionately affected by homelessness, with 14% of people with HIV/AIDS homeless at any given time. Housing is critical for people with HIV since stable housing facilitates retention in medical care and continuity of HIV treatment -- both which improve health and prevent further HIV transmission.

Jonathan is a California native. Growing up in L.A., he first remembers visiting San Francisco when he was seven years old. By the time he was nine, he knew he was gay and already recognized San Francisco as a place where he could belong. Plus, he saw the city as "magical."

He moved to San Francisco when he was in his early 20s in the early nineties to work for a non-profit. He paid around $500 for an apartment in Hayes Valley. "It was almost a three-bedroom apartment. Some of the closets were big enough to be bedrooms," he said.

* Not his real name.

This excerpt was cross-posted with the permission of Read the full article.

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