Healthcare Needs of Homeless Youth in the United States
Approximately 1.6 - 2.8 million youth at any given time in the United States are considered homeless and at high risk for poor social and health outcomes. It is estimated that in the United States homelessness overall is expected to rise 10 -20 percent in the next year. While governmental and private programs exist to address the tribulations faced by homeless persons, youth continue to be underserved. The 2009, $787 billion economic stimulus package includes $1.5 billion to address issues of homelessness, particularly in families. However, most of these programs do not address the specific needs of the homeless and uninsured youth. Homeless youth have a higher incidence of trauma-related injuries, developmental delays, infections, and nutritional deficiencies. Furthermore, there is a disproportionately higher prevalence of substance abuse, psychological illness, as well as sexual and emotional abuse leading to increased rates of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Studies have shown an economic burden of both higher health care costs, increased use of emergency services, and lengthier hospitalizations in homeless individuals compared to those in similarly low-income groups. This article provides an overview for the medical practitioner of health-concerns of homeless youth in the United States and issues related to their access to healthcare.
Homeless youth, runway adolescent, throwaway adolescent, systems youth