The Impact of Housing Status on Health Care Utilization Among Persons With HIV Disease

This study sought to identify the prevalence of unstable housing situations, and for whom they occurred, and to examine differences in health care utilization by housing status. Housing status and inpatient and outpatient health care utilization of 1,851 HIV-infected individuals was ascertained through interviews. Nine percent of respondents were in unstable housing situations. Unstable housing was associated with significantly lower functional status. The unstably housed were more likely to visit an emergency room (p < 0.05) and had fewer ambulatory visits than persons with stable housing (p < 0.03). They incurred nearly five more hospital days and their average hospitalization was approximately 1.5 days longer than the stably housed, although these differences were not significant. Utilization of ambulatory care is lower among unstably housed persons with HIV disease, which may have led to their increased reliance upon emergency rooms and hospitals. Helping HIV-infected individuals maintain adequate housing could reverse this pattern.