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Prisoner HIV program leads to continuum of medical care after release
Date:5/7/2008

Providence, R.I. By linking HIV positive prisoners to community-based medical care prior to release through an innovative program called Project Bridge, 95 percent of ex-offenders were retained in health care for a year after being released from incarceration, according to researchers from The Miriam Hospital. Continuity of medical care can reduce costs to the criminal justice systems, improve health outcomes, and may reduce HIV transmission.

The complete study reviewing the effectiveness of Project Bridge, a program developed by The Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I., is published in the May 2008 issue of the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

By taking a multidisciplinary approach involving medical providers, social workers, and outreach staff, Project Bridge has demonstrated that the complex needs of HIV positive ex-offenders can be addressed to increase social stability and improve health care retention, says lead author Nick Zaller, Ph.D., of The Miriam Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University.

The benefits of the program are far-reaching as ex-offenders engaged in medical care are more likely to achieve social stabilization and less likely to return to prison.

Ex-offenders are often released to impoverished communities from which they came the potential this environment offers for relapse into drug use and lack of access to health care poses a threat to the health benefits they may have gained during incarceration, says principal investigator Leah Holmes, M.S.W., project director of Project Bridge and an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. Ultimately, this can impose a burden on tax payers who end up paying for re-incarceration and/or emergency room visits for those not taking their medications.

Project Bridge, which was formed at The Miriam Hospital in 1997, engages HIV positive inmates while they are still in prison. Soci
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Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
401-432-1328
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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