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Health implications of chronic homelessness: lived experiences of adult men and women at a community in Gauteng Province, South Africa

Publication Abstract

Phiri, Cynthia M., and Brian E. Perron. 2012. "Health implications of chronic homelessness: lived experiences of adult men and women at a community in Gauteng Province, South Africa." African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance, 18: 160-173.

Homelessness in South Africa is widely recognised as a problem, but virtually no research exists to understand associated issues as perceived from the homeless perspective. Discriminatory behaviour and negative attitudes towards the homeless present moral and ethical dilemmas among service providers. To-date, research on the relationship between HIV and homelessness in South Africa has not been sufficiently rigorous. The objective of this study was to explore lived experiences of adult men and women from Johannesburg inner city. The study was qualitative, explorative and contextual. The population consisted of the homeless individuals living on the streets in the vicinity of Braamfontein and Johannesburg inner city not registered with any of the homeless shelter programmes as residents. Purposive sampling method was used to select 10 adult participants. Data were collected through individual semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed qualitatively guided by a six steps process. Ethical consideration and trustworthiness were ensured. Data revealed that the nature of problems experienced by the homeless street-dwellers are primarily related to the wider structural, social-economic and political contexts of violence in South Africa. Inability to obtain social security benefits, lack of affordable housing, domestic violence, family disintegration and unemployment were cited as contributory causes to their homelessness. The study concludes that the relationship between adult homelessness in Johannesburg inner city and the rapid spread of HIV and AIDS is a compelling problem requiring local insights and global perspectives in the quest to provide collaborative sustainable development and innovative health resource management.

Country of focus: South Africa.

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