SF homeless population is getting older

By Jeff Sheehy

UCSF researchers have found that the median age of San Francisco’s homeless population has increased from 37 to 46 years over 14 years-a rate of about two-thirds of a year every year.

“We have been doing the sampling the same way since 1990, and we are seeing a cohort that has been older every time we have looked and that does not seem to be regenerating itself,” said Judith A. Hahn, PhD, MA, assistant professor of medicine at the UCSF Epidemiology and Prevention Interventions Center at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center.

Published in the July 2006 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the study looked at 3,534 homeless adults recruited at social service locations in four waves over 14 years: 1990-94, 1996-98, 1999-2000, and 2003.

“In addition, we have seen a worsening of health status over this time period. This is in part due to chronic diseases related to homelessness, such as alcohol and substance abuse related problems, and those seen more often in aging populations, such as hypertension and diabetes. Controlling these and other conditions in a cohort of aging homeless will be very challenging if they are still out on the streets,” said Hahn.

Study co-authors include Margot B. Kushel, MD, assistant professor of medicine; David R. Bangsberg, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine and director; Elise Riley, PhD, assistant professor of medicine; and Andrew R. Moss, PhD, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, all at the UCSF Epidemiology and Prevention Interventions Center at SFGH.

Funding from the National Institutes for Health and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation supported the study.

The Epidemiology and Prevention Interventions Center at SFGH is a component of the AIDS Research Institute (ARI) at UCSF.
UCSF ARI houses hundreds of scientists and dozens of programs throughout UCSF and affiliated labs and institutions, making ARI one of the largest AIDS research entities in the world.

UCSF is a leading university that consistently defines health care worldwide by conducting advanced biomedical research, educating graduate students in the life sciences, and providing complex patient care.