Chicago Tribune Profiles Home For HIV-Positive Men
The Chicago Tribune recently profiled the Jo-Ray House, a home for HIV-positive men in Chicago. Jo-Ray was founded in 2003 by Ida Byther-Smith, who was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1991. Byther-Smith has qualified for grants from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, which has said that one of the biggest challenges facing HIV-positive people is finding housing, according to the Tribune. "The housing issue is becoming a public health issue," Arturo Bendixen, housing director for the AIDS Foundation, said, adding that 50% to 60% of people living with HIV/AIDS report experiencing homelessness or housing instability. "It is very difficult to find a place to store your medicine and to refrigerate it when you're homeless," Bendixen said, adding that homeless people living with HIV/AIDS are five times more likely to die. "Some HIV/AIDS regimens require taking (medication) different times of the day. People on the streets or in a shelter don't have a lot of control over their regimens," Bendixen said.
Six men currently live at the house. Although each resident pays $360 monthly in rent, Byther-Smith said that rent is not a requirement. Byther-Smith added that by helping HIV-positive men, she also is helping women. "If I can reach one man with HIV and help him get past his anger, maybe I can save one woman from being infected like me," she said (Williams-Harris, Chicago Tribune, 4/20).