What we’re doing: The ‘Positive Spaces, Healthy Places’ project works with a range of partners to look at the relationship between housing, health, and living with HIV in Ontario. This includes exploring current and projected housing needs, and advocating for resources.

Why we are doing it: We have demonstrated that unstable housing leads to poorer physical and mental health outcomes for people living with HIV. On the other hand, people living in supportive housing are less likely to use resource-intensive services such as emergency rooms, and are more likely to have an undetectable viral load.

We aim to understand:

  • The relationship between housing quality/security, physical and mental health, and access to health care, treatment and social services for people living with HIV in Ontario.
  • How experiences of housing and homelessness vary and how housing changes for people living with HIV over time.
  • The characteristics of healthy housing for people living with HIV in Ontario.
  • We made a particular effort to understand the housing experiences and needs of Indigenous people living with HIV.

How we are doing it:

  • Community engagement is at the heart of the study. People living with HIV are involved as partners and co-investigators.
  • People living with HIV were trained as peer research assistants, conducting interviews with over 600 people at four time periods (baseline, 12, 24 and 36 month follow-ups).

Although the data collection has ended, we continue to develop relationships with local, national and international organizations, publish peer-reviewed papers, and promote policy change.

Our Partners: Positive Spaces Healthy Places operates as a partnership between community-based AIDS service organizations, policy partners and academic researchers. Learn more about our partners.

Action Point: Data from our study have been used to secure millions of dollars of new housing-related investments from municipal and provincial governments for people living with HIV in Ontario. Positive Spaces Healthy Places’ findings are also cited in a recent Ontario Human Rights Commission Report, Right at home: Report on the consultation on rental housing and human rights.

For more information: Please contact Principal Investigator Dr. Sean B. Rourke at RourkeS@smh.ca.