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Characteristics of Homeless HIV-positive Outreach Responders in Urban US and Their Success in Primary Care Treatment
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Homeless HIV + persons with persistent mental illness and substance use disorders need services, but are hard to reach and enroll into treatment. Connecting them to services is a major challenge of the AIDS epidemic. This report describes characteristics of homeless HIV + substance abusers who responded to outreach and enrolled in integrated treatment services. The target population was urban, homeless, HIV + individuals with substance dependence and/or mental illness diagnoses. Health and physical functioning were measured using a refinement of the Medical Outcomes Study Health Survey. Questions based on the PRIME-MD measured subjects' mental health status. Outreach occurred at shelters, soup kitchens, and on the streets. The outreach team consisted of a nurse, substance abuse counsellor, and a formerly homeless person. Outreach contacted 3,059 individuals; 1,446 entered the clinic, 110 of 206 eligible candidates enrolled in the study, and 82.7% of study participants completed 12-month follow-up interviews. Enrollees exhibited 5th percentile composite health scores. They reported heavy street drug use and unmet service needs particularly for housing and financial assistance. Outreach successfully recruited targeted individuals into treatment. They stayed in treatment and demonstrated improvements on measures of physical and mental health 12-months later. (Authors)
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services