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‘Got a room for me?’ Housing Experiences of Older Adults Living with HIV/AIDS in Ottawa*

  • Charles Furlotte (a1), Karen Schwartz (a2), Jay J. Koornstra (a3) and Richard Naster (a3)

HIV/AIDS and aging is an important emerging topic with relevance to gerontology. Currently, little is known about the housing experiences of older adults within the context of HIV/AIDS. This article explores the issue and examines interview data concerning the housing experiences of 11 older adults (52 to 67 years old) living with HIV/AIDS in Ottawa, Ontario. Participants’ stories revealed concerns relating to three major themes: acceptance into retirement homes and long-term care communities, barriers to accessing subsidized housing services, and homelessness. Participants reported feeling that they lacked recognition and experienced confusion about their future housing prospects. These data suggest that a shift may be occurring in the housing needs of people aging with HIV/AIDS. This emerging population presents challenges to mainstream ideas of aging. We conclude that increased attention is needed in research, policy, and practice to address housing issues among this age group of people living with HIV/AIDS.


Le VIH/SIDA et le vieillissement constitue un thème émergent important et pertinent pour la gérontologie. Les expériences des personnes âgées vivant avec le VIH relatives au logement sont encore très peu connues. Le présent article explore cette problématique en examinant les données issues d’entrevues portant sur les expériences relatives au logement de 11 adultes âgés (de 52 à 67 ans) vivant avec le VIH/SIDA à Ottawa (Ontario). Les histoires des participants ont révélé des préoccupations relatives aux trois thèmes principaux: l’acceptation dans les maisons de retraite ou dans les centres d’hébergements de soin de longue durée, le manque d’accès aux logements subventionnés et l’itinérance. Les participants rapportaient ressentir un manque de reconnaissance et de la confusion concernant leurs perspectives d’habitation. Ces résultats suggèrent qu’un changement se produit peutêtre dans les besoins de logement de personnes qui vieillissent avec le VIH. Cette population émergente apporte des défis aux idées dominantes sur le vieillissement. Nous concluons qu’une attention accrue est nécessaire au niveau de la recherche, des politiques et de la pratique pour aborder le problème du logement chez ce groupe d’âge de personnes vivant avec le VIH.

Corresponding author
Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to / La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à: Charles Furlotte, RSW, MSW School of Social Work Kenneth Taylor Hall (KTH), Room 319 McMaster University 1280 Main Street West Hamilton, ON L8S 4M4 (
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The authors thank the research participants who gave of their time. Thank you to Khaled Salam, Susan McWilliam, and Dr. Isabelle Wallach for their contributions, feedback, and support in the development of this article.

This first author of this manuscript received a $1,000 community-based research honorarium jointly from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network and Ontario AIDS Network.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

W.H. Adler , P.V. Baskar , F.J. Chrest , B. Dorsey-Cooper , R.A. Winchurch , & J.E. Nagel (1997). HIV infection and aging: Mechanisms to explain the accelerated rate of progression in the older patient. Mechanics of Aging and Development, 96, 137155.

S.G. Deeks , & A.N. Phillips (2009). HIV infection, antiretroviral treatment, aging, and non-AIDS related morbidity. British Medical Journal, 338, 288292.

C.A. Emlet (2006). “You’re awfully old to have this disease”: Experiences of stigma and ageism in adults 50 years and older living with HIV/AIDS. The Gerontologist, 46(8), 781790.

A.C. Justice (2010). HIV and aging: Time for a new paradigm. Current HIV/AIDS Reports, 7(20), 6976.

C.A. Leaver , G. Bargh , J.R. Dunn , & S. Hwang (2007). The effects of housing status on health-related outcomes in people living with HIV: A systematic review of the literature. AIDS and Behaviour, 11(Suppl. 2), 85100.

B. Lipman (2009). Elderly homeless men and women: Aged care’s forgotten people. Australian Social Work, 62(2), 272286.

V. Shubert , & N. Bernstine (2007). Moving from fact to policy: Housing is HIV prevention and care. AIDS and Behavior, 11(Suppl. 2), 172181.

R.J. Wolitski , D.P. Kidder , S.L. Pals , S. Royal , A. Aidala , R. Stall , . (2010). Randomized trial of the effects of housing assistance on the health and risk behaviors of homeless and unstably housed people living with HIV. AIDS & Behavior, 14(3), 493503.

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Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement
  • ISSN: 0714-9808
  • EISSN: 1710-1107
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-on-aging-la-revue-canadienne-du-vieillissement
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