Sexual Health news - HIV

Study finds most ex-prisoners don't continue HIV care

Scientists are constantly trying to find ways to decrease the number of people who contract HIV, which involves helping at-risk populations gain access to condoms and reliable information. One group in particular need of help is inmates. While in jail, prisoners have access to HIV treatment, but only one-third of them continue to seek care after being released, according to a new study reported on by MedPage Today.

The U.S. Department of Justice reported that nearly 22,000 inmates in a state or federal prison tested positive for HIV or had AIDS in 2008. This represents 1.5 percent of the incarcerated population, a figure that is consistent with statistics from previous years.

There are ongoing efforts to help ex-inmates gain better access to care. Researchers from the Yale University School of Medicine followed almost 900 prisoners in 10 different cities who had received treatment for HIV while serving their time. They discovered that 34 percent of participants stopped care completely within the first six months of being released and only 38 percent continued treatment. 

"Better efforts need to be made to effectively re-engage people in care after release from prison," Barry Zingman, M.D., told MedPage Today. "The prisons can do better, and important contributions could be made by community-based organizations and HIV providers and their support staff."

It's important to note that HIV-positive individuals who were seeing a specialist before beginning their sentence are 67 percent more likely to continue care after being released than their peers. The study's investigators also emphasize that providing more education on HIV may double the chance of an ex-inmate sustaining treatment.

The preliminary results of this study were presented at the IDWeek 2012 conference.