Community Voices at the National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine Identifies Tie Between Prison Health and the Health of the Public

Jan 08, 2007, 00:00 ET from Morehouse School of Medicine

    ATLANTA, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Untreated or overlooked
 illnesses in a prison population can expose whole communities to the risk
 of infection from a contagious disease, reports the latest brief released
 today by Community Voices, a national initiative to increase access to
 care, located at the National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School
 of Medicine: titled "Prison Health and the Health of the Public: Ties that
     Of the estimated 2.2 million men and women incarcerated in prisons and
 jails, many suffer with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and tuberculosis, as well as
 chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Even more
 suffer from undiagnosed or untreated mental illness. Many correlate the
 catastrophic rise of HIV cases among African American woman with the return
 of HIV-positive men after their release from prison. The dramatic rise in
 HIV/AIDS rates among African American women is a virtual epidemic that is
 unnoticed and not responded to by those jails and prisons in which the
 deadly HIV/AIDS virus is transferred.
     Once released, far too many former prisoners have no guaranteed access
 to health insurance and thus, virtually no entr�e to a continuum of health
 services. Added to that, upon reentry, inmates often return to their low-
 income communities, cities, towns and neighborhoods with the fewest
 resources. The effect is to exacerbate health disparities already present
 while the unmet health needs of people in jails and prisons can threaten
 the well-being of their families, communities and society as a whole.
     The lack of consistent policies dedicated to the re-integration of
 recently released offenders into the community creates an additional burden
 on an already strained health care and human resource delivery system. Many
 of these individuals encounter difficulty managing the most basic elements
 for a successful reintegration into society, such as reconnecting with
 jobs, housing, and their families, and accessing needed health care, mental
 health care, and substance abuse treatment. Community Voices is tasked with
 identifying guiding principles and seeking innovative models, strategies,
 and solutions to address these issues.

SOURCE Morehouse School of Medicine