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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
TENNESSEE: 'Off the Corner': HIV/AIDS Patients Gain Support, Roof
Sara Patterson
February 13, 2012
Commercial Appeal (Memphis) (02.07.12) - Monday, February 13,

The Memphis-area nonprofit Friends For Life (FFL) recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the completion of a $1.3 million, 10-unit apartment building for homeless people living with HIV/AIDS.

But unlike other residential programs run by FFL, would-be tenants will not have to pass an initial drug test to qualify to live in one of the fully furnished, single-occupancy units at the Aloysius New Beginnings complex. "It's hard to get 'off the corner' if you're living on the corner, said Kim Daugherty, FFL's executive director. "Let's get them indoors, housed, and then work on changes so they won't be relegated to the corner forever." A recent report by the National AIDS Housing Coalition showed the strong link between HIV and homelessness. The 2011 policy study found HIV infection rates among the homeless are about 16 times higher than among the general population, and more than one-half of people living with HIV experience homelessness or housing instability following diagnosis.

FFL views housing as a key step in managing HIV/AIDS. "First we provide the housing, then we pile on other services," said Project Manager Lonnie Franklin.

Shelby County has a new HIV case rate 2.5 times that of the state's, 2010 data show. Blacks comprise 83.5 percent of county residents living with HIV/AIDS, whites 14.1 percent, and Hispanic 1.6 percent. The majority of the 6,633 estimated cases are male (62.8 percent).

Noting the strong social stigma still attached to HIV/AIDS in Memphis, Daughtery asked that the address of the new facility not be reported.