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Hepatitis C virus infection, substance use and mental illness among homeless youth: a review

Nyamathi, Adeline Ma; Christiani, Ashleyb; Windokun, Folasadec; Jones, Toniaa; Strehlow, Aarond; Shoptaw, Stevee

Section I: Vulnerable populations

Objectives: Homeless youth are at a high risk of substance abuse, mental illness and blood-borne infections, such as hepatitis C. In this paper, we review the implications of these conditions, discuss the unique challenges faced by homeless youth, and explore potential strategies for harm reduction and intervention in this vulnerable population.

Results: Interventions that combine youth-centered, service-based care, street outreach, case management, and motivational interviewing with integrated health services such as hepatitis A/B vaccination, and mental health and substance abuse programmes, are presented as innovative approaches to address the healthcare needs of homeless youth.

Conclusion: Recommendations for age-appropriate interventions and further research are made.

Author Information

From the aUCLA School of Nursing

bDavid Geffen School of Medicine

cUCLA School of Social Welfare

dUCLA School of Nursing Health Center at the Union Rescue Mission, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA

eIntegrated Substance Abuse Program, 11075 Santa Monical Blvd., Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Correspondence to Adeline Nyamathi, ANP, PhD, FAAN, UCLA School of Nursing, Room 2-250, Factor Building, Box 951720, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1702, USA. E-mail:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.