While poverty is an established barrier to achieving success at each step of the HIV care continuum, less is known about specific aspects of poverty and how they overlap with behavior in exceptionally low-income individuals who live in well-resourced areas. We considered unsuppressed viral load over 3 years among women living with HIV in San Francisco who used homeless shelters, low-income hotels and free meal programs. One-hundred twenty study participants were followed; 60% had > 1 unsuppressed viral load and 19% were unsuppressed at every visit. Across six-month intervals, the odds of unsuppressed viral load were 11% higher for every 10 nights spent sleeping on the street [Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) 1.11, 95% CI 1.02–1.20]; 16% higher for every 10 nights spent sleeping in a shelter (AOR/10 nights 1.16, 95% CI 1.06–1.27); 4% higher for every 10 nights spent sleeping in a single-room occupancy hotel (AOR/10 nights 1.04, 95% CI 1.02–1.07); and over threefold higher among women who experienced any recent incarceration (AOR 3.56, 95% CI 1.84–6.86). Violence and recent use of outpatient health care did not significantly predict viral suppression in adjusted analysis. While strategies to promote retention in care are important for vulnerable persons living with HIV, they are insufficient to ensure sustained viral suppression in low-income women experiencing homelessness and incarceration. Results presented here in combination with prior research linking incarceration to homelessness among women indicate that tailored interventions, which not only consider but prioritize affordable housing, are critical to achieving sustained viral suppression in low-income women living with HIV.
- Viral suppression
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases