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The NSW Public Housing system is not something many of us imagine we’ll need to use, but for some of us public housing is a necessity and our home.

The most of us live in our own homes and maintain our own supports economically and socially. For a smaller group of our brothers and sisters living with HIV, the storm of homelessness often strikes out of the blue.

Homelessness has many causes in our community and in the broader social environment. Some of the many reasons why people become homeless stem from unexpected loss. The loss of a job or other income, of health, or a loved one, and often catapults into a range of other issues like financial troubles, health impacts, an increased use of drugs and alcohol, social isolation or mental health issues.

Becoming homeless takes a toll on a person’s health, both physically and mentally. When you’re living with HIV and homeless, taking medications regularly, attending medical appointments and keeping some kind of healthy routine is complicated, if not impossible.

Living with friends ‘couch-surfing’ or living rough can become a barrier to getting back into employment and further isolates a person socially. Without a strong support network, many homeless people simply slip through the cracks. People quickly find that navigating and negotiating the accommodation maze can become overwhelming. It’s no surprise that many of us ‘self-medicate’ as we reach for drugs and or alcohol to find a short-lived sense of comfort or even pleasure.

Many people living with HIV who live and work in the city are only a pay-check or two away from ‘hard times’ ourselves. People living with HIV in the private rental market (renters and buyers) are under more stress than ever before, and are struggling with our day to day expenses. Sometimes we fear reaching out to friends and family for support if we fall on hard times, for fear of being rejected or judged.

Whether you’re couch-surfing already or on the verge of living rough, reach out. You don’t need to put up with the financial or social stresses of juggling your life. You can get back into the drivers’ seat, usually a lot faster than you might think.

When you’re living with HIV and need some support to brainstorm your housing options, fill out an application, or understand how to navigate the housing maze,  Positive Life has peer navigators (who are living with HIV themselves) to listen and work out ways to find what you’re looking for. Call Positive Life on (02) 8357 8386, 1800 245 677 (freecall) or email

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Support
housing support for people living with HIV
Ageing Support
Treatments and Managing your HIV