A new report from the International AIDS Housing Roundtable and the National AIDS Housing Coalition looks at the relationship between HIV/AIDS and housing instability in 17 countries, both developing and developed. While housing instability might be expected in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the poorest region in the world where HIV is also most prevalent, the report finds that more highly developed countries and those with a lower prevalence of HIV also fail to meet the housing needs of this extremely vulnerable population. The report concludes that people living with HIV/AIDS all over the world face inequality, stigma, and discrimination that ultimately impacts their access to decent and affordable housing.
While developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have the lowest regional prevalence of HIV, their substandard housing stock fails to meet the needs of those living with HIV/ AIDS. Much of the affordable urban housing stock in this region is informally constructed, unsanitary, and lacks basic services, the report notes. Two of these countries, Costa Rica and Bolivia, offer protections for people living with HIV/AIDS against discrimination in housing and employment. However, in countries such as Belize, Columbia, Saint Lucia, and Panama, the housing needs of this population are not officially acknowledged even by housing or advocacy groups.
The two countries surveyed in Southeastern Asia, India and the Philippines, offer people living with HIV/AIDS special treatment and education, as well as protections to mitigate stigma and discrimination. Dense slum quarters, however, characterize the living situation for most of this population, a situation that is unlikely to change. The report also finds that conditions are especially rough for women with HIV/AIDS, since gender discrimination in property rights makes it even more difficult for them to secure decent and adequate housing.
The sub-Saharan African region has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world and is also the most rapidly urbanizing region. As in other developing regions, high concentrations of both rural and urban slums make for extremely precarious housing conditions, especially as related to access to water and poor sanitation. While all of these countries have national responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, women are again at a disadvantage. Nigeria seems to be the only African country addressing gender inequality in its national efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The final section of the report looks at three developed countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. While these countries have much more formal housing options for those of lower income and typically marginalized populations, people living with HIV/AIDS in these countries continue to face discrimination that often prevents them from accessing affordable housing, securing employment, and receiving adequate prevention and treatment. The United States is currently the only country to have organizations and government programs that specifically address the housing needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. Despite this advantage, the U.S. serves only one-third of eligible households in need of assistance.
The 2010 report, More than Just a Roof Over My Head: Housing for People Living With HIV/AIDS, is available at: http://www. nationalaidshousing.org/PDF/More%20Than%20Just%20 a%20Roof.pdf.