Objectives: To examine the social and economic circumstances of people living with HIV in London.
Methods: Between June 2004 and June 2005, 1687 people living with HIV (73% response) receiving treatment and care in north-east London National Health Service out-patient clinics completed a confidential, self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire sought information on employment, income, education, residency status in the UK and housing.
Results: In total, 1604 respondents were included in the analysis: Black African heterosexual women (n=480) and men (224); White (646) and ethnic minority (i.e. non-White) homosexual men (112); White heterosexual men (64) and women (39); and Black Caribbean heterosexual women (26) and men (13). Black African heterosexual men and women consistently reported more difficulties than any other group in relation to employment, income, housing and residency status. Half the Black African heterosexual men (46.8%) and women (51.2%) reported insecure residency status in the UK, significantly more than any other group (P<0.001). Just under half the respondents (46.6%) were employed at the time of the survey; Black African heterosexual women (35.3%) and men (45.4%) were less likely to be employed than White (57.6%) or ethnic minority (53.7%) homosexual men (P<0.001). Forty per cent of Black African heterosexual men and women, 22.9% of ethnic minority homosexual men and 9.6% of White homosexual men did not have enough money to cover their basic needs (P<0.001).
Conclusions: In this study of people living with HIV in London, a substantial number faced social and economic hardship, particularly Black African and other ethnic minority respondents. Our findings provide further evidence that in London HIV is associated with poverty, particularly among migrant and ethnic minority populations.