Care for the Homeless provides quality comprehensive services delivered with respect and cultural competence to LGBTQ youth. Along with homeless individuals and homeless families, another segment of the population experiencing homelessness are unaccompanied youth. Unaccompanied youth are difficult to count because they often are not connected to any services or shelters.
The acute need for primary health care services, as well as mental and behavioral services and dental care, is evident when one sees that health-related issues are often a precipitating cause of homelessness. Homelessness, in turn, greatly exacerbates the effect of acute and chronic health deficits. Care for the Homeless serves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning youths ages 16-24 (a sub-population of homeless with an HIV positivity rate of over 2.5%) by offering opt-out HIV rapid testing to every client that presents to a Care for the Homeless Health Education staff or clinic for primary care services; increase the number of people who know their HIV status using rapid HIV testing by Health Educators to test on the streets and in the absence of medical providers.
The lack of basic needs such as food, shelter and safety fuel homeless youths’ high risk behaviors, making them more vulnerable to contracting HIV than their domiciled counterparts. In their ongoing struggle for basics, homeless youths may engage in trading sex for money (survival sex) or illegal drug use and distribution. Compounding their risk, homeless LGBTQ youth are more likely to have unprotected sex than their straight peers.
It is sad but not surprising that the rate of HIV incidence is higher among homeless youth when compared with a housed cohort. HIV is of course not the only disease risk overrepresented among homeless youth. “Homeless and runaway youths are vulnerable to hepatitis B virus, as a result of high risk behaviors and a frequent lack of previous vaccination” (Nyamathi, A et al. 2005. Hepatitis C virus infection, substance use and mental illness among homeless youth: a review. AIDS, 19: S34-40, p. S36). “Homeless youths, particularly those with injection drug or cocaine use, previous incarceration, tattooing, risky sexual practices, mental illness, and the sharing of personal items, prostitution or victimization, and possibly severe periodontal disease are at a significant risk of” of Hepatitis C (AIDS, p. S36).
In addition, Care for the Homeless' Clinical Social Workers provide crisis intervention and supportive therapy, psychotherapy and group therapy to LGBTQ adolescents 16-24 years of age and present cases to collaborate with psychiatrists, psychologists, case managers and medical staff.
We partner with the Ali Forney Center in Manhattan. To find out more, click HERE.