A longitudinal study assessing differences in causes of death among housed and homeless people diagnosed with HIV in San Francisco

Hessol, Nancy A.; Eng, Monica; Vu, Annie; Pipkin, Sharon; Hsu, Ling C.; Scheer, Susan
November 2019
BMC Public Health;11/1/2019, Vol. 19 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
journal article
Background: San Francisco has implemented several programs addressing the needs of two large vulnerable populations: people living with HIV and those who are homeless. Assessment of these programs on health outcomes is paramount for reducing preventable deaths.Methods: Individuals diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and reported to the San Francisco Department of Public Health HIV surveillance registry, ages 13 years or older, who resided in San Francisco at the time of diagnosis, and who died between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2016 were included in this longitudinal study. The primary independent variable was housing status, dichotomized as ever homeless since diagnosed with HIV, and the dependent variables were disease-specific causes of death, as noted on the death certificate. The Cochran-Armitage test measured changes in the mortality rates over time and unadjusted and adjusted Poisson regression models measured prevalence ratios (PR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for causes of death.Results: A total of 4158 deceased individuals were included in the analyses: the majority were male (87%), ages 40-59 years old at the time of death (64%), non-Hispanic White (60%), men who have sex with men (54%), had an AIDS diagnosis prior to death (87%), and San Francisco residents at the time of death (63%). Compared to those who were housed, those who were homeless were more likely to be younger at time of death, African American, have a history of injecting drugs, female or transgender, and were living below the poverty level (all p values < 0.0001). Among decedents who were SF residents at the time of death, there were declines in the proportion of deaths due to AIDS-defining conditions (p < 0.05) and increases in accidents, cardiomyopathy, heart disease, ischemic disease, non-AIDS cancers, and drug overdoses (p < 0.05). After adjustment, deaths due to mental disorders (aPR = 1.63, 95% CI 1.24, 2.14) were more likely and deaths due to non-AIDS cancers (aPR = 0.63, 95% CI 0.44, 0.89) were less likely among those experiencing homelessness.Conclusions: Additional efforts are needed to improve mental health services to homeless people with HIV and prevent mental-health related mortality.


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