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J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2018 Apr;5(2):229-234. doi: 10.1007/s40615-017-0362-0. Epub 2017 May 31.

Chagas Disease Knowledge and Risk Behaviors of the Homeless Population in Houston, TX.

Author information

1
Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Rd NE, Atlanta, GA, 30322, USA.
2
National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX, 77030, USA.
3
National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX, 77030, USA. kmurray@bcm.edu.

Abstract

Chagas disease is a parasitic infection, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, endemic in Latin America. Sylvatic T. cruzi-infected triatomine vectors are present in rural and urban areas in the southern USA and may transmit T. cruzi infection to at-risk populations, such as homeless individuals. Our study aimed to evaluate Chagas disease knowledge and behaviors potentially associated with transmission risk of Chagas disease among Houston, Texas' homeless population by performing interviews with 212 homeless individuals. The majority of the 212 surveyed homeless individuals were male (79%), African-American (43%), American-born individuals (96%). About 30% of the individuals reported having seen triatomines in Houston, and 25% had evidence of blood-borne transmission risk (IV drug use and/or unregulated tattoos). The median total time homeless was significantly associated with recognition of the triatomine vector. Our survey responses indicate that the homeless populations may exhibit potential risks for Chagas disease, due to increased vector exposure, and participation in blood-borne pathogen risk behaviors. Our findings warrant additional research to quantify the prevalence of Chagas disease among homeless populations.

KEYWORDS:

Chagas disease; Homeless; Texas; Trypanosoma cruzi; Vulnerable populations 92C60, 92D30

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