Harm Reduction Outreach Services and Engagement of Chemically Dependent Homeless People Living with HIV/AIDS: An Analysis of Service Utilization Data to Evaluate Program Theory

Benjamin Shepard


This study examines service utilization patterns among a socially vulnerable population of homeless people living with HIV/AIDS and who have a history of chemical dependence, as they are engaged through outreach services. CitiWide Harm Reduction collaborates with Montefiore Medical Center to connect homeless people with health care through harm reduction outreach and low threshold medical services. Analysis of two cohorts – individuals engaged through harm reduction outreach and individuals who “walk-in” to engage in services at CitiWide Harm Reduction’s drop-in center – assesses the program’s theory that outreach engagement is a mediating variable increasing service utilization. These results demonstrate that low-threshold harm reduction outreach, a brand of outreach designed to reduce barriers to services, does increase access to health care and related services for a socially vulnerable, traditionally “hard-to-reach,” population. Harm reduction outreach is a valuable intervention for increasing service utilization among this highly marginalized group.


HIV; AIDS; service utilization; harm reduction; health care; program theory;

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.23861/EJBM20072366


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