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Policy Shift: U.S. House Recognizes Crucial Role of Housing in Fighting AIDS

May 27, 2010

The U.S. House of Representatives signaled a turning point in national AIDS policy this week, passing a resolution that recognizes housing as a critical method to fighting HIV/AIDS.

"... In spite of the evidence indicating that adequate housing has a direct positive effect on HIV prevention, treatment, and health outcomes, the housing resources devoted to the national response to HIV/AIDS have been inadequate and housing has been larger ignored in policy discussions ..." declares the resolution, offically called H. Con. Res 137.

Introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat from New York's 8th district, the resolutions says:

  • Congress recognizes that stable and affordable housing is an essential part of an effective HIV prevention and treatment plan.
  • The U.S. needs to make a commitment to fund projects that use housing to combat the AIDS epidemic.

Previous policy often focused on medication as the key to fighting HIV/AIDS. For years, however, statistics have pointed to clear links between homelessness and HIV infection. According to the resolution, up to 14 percent of all homeless people are HIV positive, a rate 10 times that of the national population.

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"This is a paradigm shift in policy," said Nancy Bernstine, executive director of the National AIDS Housing Coalition.

Now, armed with a piece of paper stating that it is Congress' will to making housing a priority, AIDS advocates can demand that local politicians devote resources to housing, and ask that local governments make it an integral part of HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention plans.

The next step, Bernstine said, is to pass a similar resolution in the U.S. Senate, something already being pushed through by Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey. Canada has passed a similar resolution -- as has the state of Delaware -- and housing will be part of a large multinational discussion at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna this July.

"In Washington, D.C., we have a waiting list of over 600 HIV-positive people who need housing," said Christine Campbell, Housing Works director of national advocacy and organizing. "With this resolution, we have a tool that can be used to ask the government to get the resources to fix that problem. This is a real affirmation that housing can be just as important as medication in fighting the AIDS epidemic."



  
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This article was provided by Housing Works. It is a part of the publication Housing Works AIDS Issues Update. Visit Housing Works' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
See Also
Housing and HIV Prevention/Treatment

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