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Study confirms benefit of routine, jail-based HIV testing for inmates
Date:6/24/2010

1991 as part an initial medical evaluation conducted within 24 hours of confinement. Test results are available within a week or two. Anyone who receives an HIV-positive result while incarcerated is notified by an HIV clinical nurse and receives prevention counseling and referrals to HIV care both in the prison setting and in the community. Individuals with a positive diagnosis who are released before they can be notified are contacted by a RIDOH outreach worker who also provides care referrals and prevention counseling.

Following a detailed review of RIDOC records and RIDOH surveillance data, researchers determined that if HIV testing had been conducted after the first 48 hours of incarceration, approximately 29 percent of detainees with new HIV diagnoses would not have been tested. What's even more troubling: if all testing had occurred beyond seven days of incarceration, 43 percent of HIV-positive inmates who had been released within that timeframe would not have been tested, resulting in a delay in their diagnosis and the opportunity for them to unknowingly spread the disease.

In addition, nearly half of the newly-diagnosed HIV-positive inmates did not disclose HIV risk behaviors, such as injection drug use or high risk sexual behaviors. Beckwith, who is also an assistant professor of medicine at Alpert Medical School and a physician with University Medicine, says this finding could be an issue for jurisdictions that rely on HIV testing based on known risk behaviors, since it appears they may miss a sizeable number of HIV-positive detainees.

"These results support policies for HIV testing upon jail intake and routinely providing voluntary, opt-out HIV testing to all detainees, regardless of reported risk factors, in order to maximize our ability to diagnose as many new cases as possible," he adds.

From 2000 through 2007, the RIDOC jail processed 140,739 criminal offenses and conducted 102,229 HIV tests. Due to multiple arre
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Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
401-793-7484
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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