REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION
At the March 12th Health and Hospital Committee meeting, Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody reported that she was concerned about the public health consequences of HIV within homeless encampments throughout Santa Clara County.
In order to more fully understand the issue of homelessness from a public health perspective, Dr. Cody recently visited the so-called “jungle” homeless encampment, located near San Jose’s Happy Hollow Zoo. During this visit, Dr. Cody was provided information on myriad health challenges facing homeless individuals, one of which is HIV. The full scope of HIV prevalence within homeless encampments, the “jungle” specifically, is not well understood. What is known is that those limited cases that are documented are not being treated in the comprehensive manner that is normally applied to this serious health condition. While this is problematic because untreated individuals who are HIV positive are likely to suffer serious health effects, and are at risk of transmitting the disease to others through unprotected sex and intravenous drug use, there is also the potential for other communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis, to quickly become widespread in this community.
Due to these uncertainties and the potential for serious negative public health consequences, Supervisor Yeager is requesting a report-back to the Board of Supervisors through the Health and Hospital Committee on the prevalence of HIV within homeless encampments throughout Santa Clara County, including possible interventions to prevent transmission of HIV and other associated communicable diseases within the homeless population, as well as cost estimates and resource needs for such interventions.