People experiencing homelessness often have a higher risk for exposure to communicable diseases and have little access to health care systems and treatment in their communities. Common communicable diseases that often affect homeless populations more severely than other populations include influenza, strep throat, gastroenteritis, sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis. This page provides research, tools, and guidance for homeless service providers looking to prevent and treat communicable diseases, as well as resources for people experiencing homelessness to access local health care centers.
The recent emergence of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) calls for enhanced cooperation between public health authorities, homeless service systems, and other partners at the local level. To support these partnerships and the vulnerable households served, relevant federal agencies are issuing guidance from subject matter experts on lessons learned from previous response efforts to infectious diseases. HUD strongly encourages Continuum of Cares (CoCs) to contact their local public health departments, Healthcare for the Homeless agencies, and other local health partners to ensure the unique needs and opportunities related to the homeless service system are incorporated in plans to prevent and respond to infectious diseases like COVID-19. CoCs can take steps now to develop preparedness and response plans to protect against infection.
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The contents of these documents, except when based on statutory or regulatory authority or law, do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. These documents are intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.