News & Announcements

Hidden Truth About the Health of Homeless People

Posted: October 24, 2014

As many as 4 million Europeans and 3•5 million Americans experience homelessness every year, and the numbers are rising. Homeless people "are the sickest in our society," but just treating ill health might not be enough to help get people off the streets, according to a new two-part Series on homelessness in high-income countries, published in The Lancet.

The Series highlights that being homeless is not only bad for your physical and mental health but also has dramatic effects on life expectancy. Rates of tuberculosis infection, for example, are at least 20 times higher in the homeless population than the general population, while rates of depression are up to seven times higher in the homeless population and similar to levels of psychosis.

Homeless people are also two to five times more likely to die prematurely than the general population, especially from suicide and unintentional injuries. However, despite an expansion of services, this increased risk of death has remained similar over the past 20 years.

"Homeless people are the sickest in our society. The evidence on disease rates is very concerning not only for drug and alcohol abuse but also for a range of infectious diseases, heart disease and other age-related chronic conditions, and mental health disorders. The evidence shows that homeless people are old decades before the rest of the population because of their poor health," says Seena Fazel, lead author of the first paper and Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at the University of Oxford in the UK.

Across the European Union 400,000 individuals, and in the USA 600,000 people, are homeless on any given night. Figures from the past 5 years suggest that the number of homeless people is continuing to rise, and the number of children and families who are homeless has increased substantially. Therefore, the importance of tackling this issue is greater than ever, say the authors.

Read more on Read the summary of the article -- Health interventions for people who are homeless.

‘We Are the South’ Rises with LGBTQ Racial Justice Activitists

Posted: October 23, 2014

LGBTQ activists at the intersection of race, place, class, sexuality and so much more working toward racial justice in the South? No, you're not dreaming. Last week, the Better Together Southern Leadership and Action Cohort, a network of eight organizations gathered by Colorlines' publisher Race Forward, launched We Are the South. It is a photo campaign highlighting the people at the center of this week's launch. On social media, #WeAretheSouth and #SomosElSur amplified those activists' experiences.

In 2012, Applied Research Center (ARC) initiated a year-long Better Together Southern Leadership and Action Cohort, which connects and supports a diverse set of Southern leaders working at the intersection of racial and LGBT justice in their communities. To convene the Cohort, ARC established a working partnership with Southerners on New Ground (SONG), a 20-year-old, regional, queer liberation organization comprised of people of color, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities and working class, and rural and small-town LGBTQ individuals from the South The current Better Together Cohort includes 22 leaders and organizers from eleven organizations, spanning 10 states.

The newest briefing paper of the Better Together was co-authored by HIFIS Research Fellow Darren Arquero, titled "Better Together in the South: Building Movements across Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation". The briefing paper examines the challenges and opportunities that arise when the movement for racial justice is connected to that of LGBTQ liberation in the U.S. South. Drawing on lessons learned from the cohort, the paper shares strategies for advancing change in the South and beyond. 

Read more on

Latino Subgroups-Specific Research Critical to Addressing Tobacco-Related Health Disparities

Posted: October 22, 2014

Numbering 53 million, it is estimated that Hispanics/Latinos may comprise 31 percent of the population in the United States by 2060. They are the largest ethnic group in the country, have one of the fastest growing youth segments, and are faced with persistent health disparities. The public health community generally treats Hispanics/Latinos as one homogenous group, overlooking the very distinct differences among various subgroups. As a result, on the whole, this population appears to have lower smoking rates than the general U.S. population and other major ethnic groups; however, in terms of tobacco-related death and disease, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and three out of four leading causes of death in this population are tobacco related. Treating the Hispanic/Latino community as one group paints an inaccurate picture about tobacco use behavior and its impact. When disaggregated, there are significant variations in smoking rates among Hispanic/Latino subgroups.

This month, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Legacy released a ground breaking study produced in collaboration with Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) entitled: “Legacy Latino College Health Initiative: A Study of Tobacco-Related Health Disparities in Hispanic/Latino Subpopulations.” No research effort to-date had focused exclusively on drilling down tobacco use within the Hispanic/Latino college population. The study was conducted at four different universities across the United States, representing regional differences, types of schools (public and private institutions) and Hispanic/Latino subgroups. The outcomes help to illustrate the differences in cigarette smoking and other tobacco products used among college Latino subgroups. For example, Cuban-Americans have the highest prevalence of cigarette smoking (37 percent) while Dominican-Americans have the lowest (9 percent).

Another critical finding was the higher rate of smoking among students living on-campus (29 percent) compared to those that live off-campus (16 percent). Furthermore, a high rate of experimentation with emerging products like hookah and electronic cigarettes was observed among specific subgroups. Menthol use in particular, was also significantly higher among Cuban-Americans and Puerto-Ricans, compared to Mexican-Americans and Dominican-Americans. What does all of this data mean?


Call for Abstracts for the 6th International Meeting on Indigenous Child Health

Posted: October 21, 2014

The International Meeting on Indigenous Child Health (IMICH), held every two years, focuses on innovative clinical care models and community-based public health approaches for children and youth in First Nations, Inuit, Métis, American Indian, Alaska Native and other Indigenous communities around the world.

Co-hosted by the Canadian Paediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics, this meeting brings together health care providers and researchers working with children, youth and families in American Indian, Alaska Native, First Nations, Inuit, Métis and other Indigenous communities. Participants share model programs and research, learn about prevalent health problems, and acquire practical skills for use in community settings. Opportunities to share knowledge and support one another’s efforts, to network and develop partnerships are built into the program.

The conference organizers represent Aboriginal and Native American organizations in Canada and the United States. Submission deadline is November 3, 2014 by 9 pm EDT.

Learn more about the conference. Submit abstract.

New Approaches Needed for People with Serious Mental Illnesses in Criminal Justice System

Posted: October 20, 2014

Responding to the large number of people with serious mental illnesses in the criminal justice system will require more than mental health services, according to a new report.

In many ways, the criminal justice system is the largest provider of mental health services in the country. Estimates vary, but previous research has found that about 14 percent of persons in the criminal justice system have a serious mental illness, and that number is as high as 31 percent for female inmates. Researchers are defining serious mental illnesses to include such things as schizophrenia, bipolar spectrum disorders and major depressive disorders.

"It has been assumed that untreated symptoms of mental illness caused criminal justice involvement, but now we're seeing that there is little evidence to support that claim," said Matthew Epperson, assistant professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Specialized interventions for people with mental illness in the criminal justice system have been developed over the past 20 years, such as mental health courts and jail diversion programs, Epperson said.

"But we need a new generation of interventions for people with serious mental health issues who are involved in the criminal justice system, whether it be interactions with police, jails, probation programs and courts," he said. "Research shows that people with serious mental illnesses, in general, display many of the same risk factors for criminal involvement as persons without these conditions."

Epperson and his colleagues are the authors of a paper in the September-October 2014 theme issue on "New Directions in Corrections and Mental Health," published by the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry.


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