Researchers interviewed nearly 400 people living with HIV in the Los Angeles area (“from Long Beach to Pomona; from Boyle Heights to Malibu”) while they waited in lines at food banks, participated in support groups, or during education and community events. Over half of respondents reported annual incomes of less than $10,000. Twenty percent were cisgender women (whose gender assigned at birth matches their personal identity), nine percent were transgender women, 44 percent were Latino, and 38 percent were Black.
The study’s findings included the following:
- 97 percent of people interviewed reported experiencing at least one legal issue in the past year.
- On average, respondents reported having over six such issues in the past year alone. Some of the top areas included consumer law and debt (48%), accessing health care (46%), housing (43%), and immigration (18.9%).
- Over 1 in 4 reported experiencing HIV discrimination within the last 5 years (28%). 16 percent reported it within the last year alone.
- Of respondents who reported experiencing HIV discrimination within the last year, over half experienced discrimination in health care settings, one third in employment, and almost one fifth in housing.
- Despite the large number of legal needs, only 16 percent of individuals who identified a legal need received legal assistance. Of those who tried to access legal services, 20 percent felt that their legal provider was insensitive to people living with HIV.
Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Institute, told Frontiers that he hopes the study will help to inform policy-makers on how they might better serve the HIV community, as well as empower those living with the virus with information to “cut through the stigma, the ignorance and the blatant discrimination that still persists, even in one of the most progressive counties in the nation.”