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Community Screening, Identification, and Referral to Primary Care, for Hepatitis C, B, and HIV Among Homeless Persons in Los Angeles.

Fuster D, Gelberg L. Community Screening, Identification, and Referral to Primary Care, for Hepatitis C, B, and HIV Among Homeless Persons in Los Angeles. Journal of community health. 2019 Dec 1; 44(6):1044-1054.

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People experiencing homelessness are disproportionally affected by drug and alcohol use and by their serious health consequences. In this study, 137 adults from the "UCLA/ARG/RAND Homeless Hepatitis Study" who were sampled from shelters and meal programs in the Skid Row of Los Angeles and screened for HIV or HCV or HBV infection. Those who tested positive for these infections were counseled about their infections and referred to primary care. They were followed-up at 1 month with interviews to identify rates, and predictors, of seeking primary care. Participants were 87.5% male, mean age of 48.6 years (SD: 8.2); most were Black (77.4%) and were chronically homeless ( > 12 months). A majority (70%) had a regular source of care; 78% were lifetime marijuana users, 56% were lifetime cocaine users and 51% had injected intravenously during the past year. Among this sample, 118 participants (86.1%) tested seropositive for HCV infection, 79 (57.7%) HBV infection and 18 (13.1%) HIV infection. At 1-month follow-up, 102 participants (74.5%) attended the clinic they were referred to. The only variable associated with attending the clinic was having slept in a shelter during the previous night versus other sleeping conditions [Odds ratio (95% CI): 3 .0 (1.07-8.42), p = 0.03]. This model offers a simple and efficacious approach to seeking, testing, counseling, and referral to treatment of community-based adults experiencing homelessness with HIV, HCV and/or HBV infection and linking them to primary care. Being sheltered may be the key facilitator for homeless seeking primary care.

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