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Researchers offer new approach to track former prisoners' access to community HIV care
Date:7/9/2012

stimated one in seven individuals infected with HIV passes through a correctional facility, suggesting that there is a disproportionate number of HIV-positive individuals in the criminal justice system. For many individuals, incarceration is the only time they will access HIV testing, education, counseling and treatment services.

During the transition back to the community, recently released prisoners face a number of challenges, including finding employment, securing housing and, in many cases, coping with substance use and mental health problems. All of these obstacles represent a possible barrier to HIV care.

In their report, Montague and colleagues from the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill, Abt Associates, Inc. and the University of Texas Medical Branch studied clinical data from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to track if HIV-positive ex-offenders are receiving community follow-up care. Ryan White is the only federal program designed to support services for people with HIV/AIDS and is a major source of care for inmates who have been recently released. Starting in 2009, all Ryan White funded HIV/AIDS care programs were required to submit encrypted, client-level data to the federal government to provide a clear picture of all individuals receiving care who receive care from Ryan White providers throughout the nation.

Researchers say linking Ryan White data with corrections release data could be the key to developing a system that can measure the level and quality of follow-up HIV care in the community, such as the time it takes former prisoners to schedule their first appointment and their health status at their first clinic visit. The system proposed uses a confidential identifier developed for Ryan White data reporting to link the release data sets with clinical data from community providers. The metrics developed from this linkage can also be used to monitor quality improvement and program development, allowing for the
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Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
401-793-7484
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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