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Helping Freedom Be as Good as Prison for Ex-Inmates With HIV


(AUDIO) Correctional institutions offer an excellent opportunity to discover and treat HIV infection, which is usually contracted before incarceration. How can physicians assure that care is just as good after these patients are released into the community?

Inmates in correctional institutions in the US are infected with HIV at rates about 5 times higher than in the outside community, and many are coinfected with hepatitis C. Prison offers a good opportunity to identify and treat these infections for patients who often arrive already infected, says Curt Beckwith MD. But continuing that treatment once they are released from prison is often a great challenge.

What can health care providers do to assure that this challenge is met? In this recorded interview, Dr. Beckwith describes realities and strategies that can help.

Dr. Beckwith is associate professor of medicine at Brown University. As an NIH-funded clinical researcher, he focuses on the delivery of HIV testing, prevention and care services to incarcerated populations. He also works on projects to improve linkages to community HIV care for HIV-positive people who are being released from correctional institutions.

Helping Freedom Be as Good as Prison for Ex-Inmates With HIV

The questions:

♦   Why have you chosen to focus on this area?

♦   One people are incarcerated, is there any automatic testing for HIV that occurs?

♦   Do studies find that providing treatment during incarceration, that adherence is good, that people tend to get the medication at the right time?

♦   What is the role of the community provider, then. How can they reach out to this population to make sure that treatment continues?

Key quotes:

"Generally speaking treatment is available and often inmates will do quite well because they have access to treatment ... The big risk comes when people leave the incarcerated settings."

"It's a real public health opportunity to identify people with undiagnosed HIV [and] to educate them about their infection. It's also a very good opportunity to use incarceration to re-link them with treatment while they're incarcerated as well as linking them to treatment when they leave the incarcerated situation"

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