An integrated approach to reducing young people’s risk of homelessness and HIV/STI in Pakistan

Stream: Young people, health and drugs
Date: Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Time: 10.55 am – 12.35 pm


Recent studies have demonstrated a link between homelessness and the increased risk of sexual transmission of HIV/STI in Pakistan. However, ways to reduce young people’s risk of homelessness and HIV/STI have not been adequately addressed, a glaring omission in a context where young people make up over half the national population. This paper, based on the first detailed sociological exploration into the lived experiences of homeless young people, argues for the adoption of a holistic and integrated approach to health promotion that goes beyond the health sector.

Data, obtained from interviews with 29 young people, demonstrate how a combination of socio-structural and interpersonal forces shape their pathways to homelessness and experiences of street life – notably regarding sex work – and produce contexts of competing risks where HIV/STI prevention can become a secondary concern. The results indicate the importance of the five action areas of the Ottawa Charter, which suggests that conventional health promotion approaches are potentially suboptimal in shaping health behaviours supportive of good health. Notably, building healthy public policies, creating supportive environments, strengthening community actions, developing personal skills, and reorienting health services can help to improve young people’s socioeconomic status, which is inextricably linked with sexual health behaviour and status. Therefore, interventions like poverty alleviation, promotion of mainstream and vocational education through cash-transfer programs, laws supportive of women and sexual minorities, and health promotion can support young people to use their abilities in productive ways that may contribute to Pakistan’s socioeconomic development.


Muhammad Naveed Noor, Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney
I am a final-year Ph.D. candidate of social research in health at the University of New South Wales. I received my undergraduate training in anthropology and development studies and have been engaged in public health research and advocacy for over five years in Pakistan.

Sujith Kumar (Presenter), Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney
I am a Scientia Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for Social Research.