Sexual Health news - HIV

White Ryan program can help ex-inmates receive HIV treatment

Prisoners are disproportionately affected by HIV, but regardless of the reason for someone's incarceration, jails offer resources to get tested for HIV and obtain treatment. However, once released, individuals don't always continue to receive care due to limited access to healthcare services, which is why researchers from The Miriam Hospital wanted to develop a new approach to monitor the status of former inmates and the sustainability of their treatment.

According to a study published in the journal Virulence, researchers from The Miriam Hospital believe that a new monitoring approach through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program could significantly prevent the spread of HIV, the rate of which is three times greater in prison, as compared to the general population. For many inmates, prison is the only time when they can receive treatment and consistent counseling. When released, individuals could face challenges that may prevent them from seeking HIV care, such as unemployment, homelessness, substance use and mental health problems.

Researchers looked at clinical data from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which provides HIV-related services for those who do not have adequate healthcare coverage or the financial resources to cope with the disease. By linking Ryan White data with prisons, a confidential identifier could be set up to keep track of ex-inmates, monitoring if these individuals continued their care.

Brain Montague, D.O., the lead author of the study, explains that it is essential for both healthcare providers and the correctional care system to acknowledge the necessity of supporting the transition of HIV-positive inmates to community care.

"By identifying best practices and encouraging their implementation on a broader scale, we can reduce the risks that prisoners and recently released inmates face when they re-enter the community, which could have a considerable impact on the incidence of HIV in this country," Montague said.