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Homeless with HIV: A place to heal becomes a matter of life or death


(music) So when a person becomes infected with
HIV they might get sick initially symptoms that would go
away usually within a couple of weeks then they’re generally not any symptoms
for a number of years although that varies a lot person to person but after several years, anywhere from five to ten the immune system starts to become
damaged and a person becomes susceptible to what we call opportunistic infections (music) We have seen an increase in Multnomah County of HIV rates amongst injection drug users and people may not know their HIV status so they may be sharing
needles not knowing that there’s a risk there (music) The current standard is to have someone start anti-retroviral medications as soon as
they know that they’re HIV positive It’s really important that they take
them regularly every day If they miss days frequently the virus can develop resistance to the medicine so that they won’t work anymore but when you’re having to spend all of your time and your energy just on basic survival,
taking medications becomes really difficult and can fall lower on the
priority list (music) (music) Our clinic sees a lot of people that are
without housing We have a lot of patients dealing with substance use
disorders and also chronic mental illness and those things tie together People are often experiencing two or three of those things at the same time and they all pose barriers to someone being able to really take care of themselves and improve their health and stay on medications regularly (music) So for people who are not housed they
generally have a lot of appointments with case managers or housing agencies
as well as the clinic and have to keep to a pretty rigid schedule both for
where they can eat when and where they’re going to be staying that night so that can also make it difficult to keep up with medical appointments (music) Looking at the problem of
homelessness from a public health perspective I think that the biggest factors are that we don’t have access to enough mental health care for people and we don’t have enough access to drug treatment programs for people There are waiting lists so even when
someone’s doing everything that they need to do it can be a very, very long
wait to get housing (change clinking) You know when you’ve been homeless for a while you develop some resentment against
people because you feel like people aren’t helping you and if people are
giving you dirty looks you know, when they walk by in the
sidewalk or, you know, saying rude things it’s very demoralizing and when your
self-image starts to suffer it gets harder and harder to take care of
yourself and you lose hope (music) (music) (music)

Glenn Chapman

5 Comments

  1. I got clean a year ago and would be homeless without my family's support. it's not easy getting back on your feet and nearly impossible without help.

  2. Thank you for this story. Portland needs better priorities to make headway with this ongoing problem, now.

  3. This was absolutely beautiful! But what I find so heartbreaking is that I seriously doubt this video will get more than a few hundred views. But whenever there is a video of homeless people acting out violently that fortifies a lot of stereotypical Behavior attributed to us homeless people ….those videos always get tens of thousands of views. I truly hope James get stabilized and makes a good recovery. she hit the nail on the head repeatedly throughout this video….STABLE HOUSING MAKES A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE!

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