Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Could Provide Critical Data To Improve Treatment, Care For Former Prisoners

Jun 27, 2012, 19:15 ET from Abt Associates

BETHESDA, Md., June 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Reporting System represents an unprecedented opportunity to evaluate the degree to which former inmates are linked with HIV care and support – an important step toward reducing HIV incidence – a new paper from researchers at Abt Associates and their co-authors at Miriam/Lifespan Hospital finds.

The paper, "Linked into Care Study (LINCS): Released HIV-positive offenders' linkage into Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program services," was presented during the annual AcademyHealth meeting, held June 24-26 in Orlando, Fla. Abt co-authors include Michael Costa and Liza Solomon.

HIV disproportionately affects prisoners. Prison population HIV/AIDS rates are three times greater than that of the general population. Incarceration is often the only time prisoners are tested and receive education, counseling and treatment for HIV. Unfortunately, the benefits of HIV care rarely extend beyond the prison walls, and there is no comprehensive way to conduct a large-scale evaluation about whether former prisoners are being linked to HIV care.

"When people are released from prison, it is a critical time in terms of getting the appropriate care and services they need," said Michael Costa, senior associate at Abt and one of the paper's co-authors. "If they are effectively linked to and retained in care and treatment, it can have significant impacts on HIV incidence in a community."

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is the only federal program solely designed to support services for people with HIV/AIDS, specifically targeting uninsured and underinsured people who are HIV infected. It is the 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 provide a clear picture of all people who receive care from Ryan White providers throughout the nation. Data from Ryan White grantees participating in this study  provides key clinical information that helps determine whether former prisoners are accessing the treatment they need.

Improving the link to care services for prisoners and recently released inmates could contribute to several important goals outlined in the 2010 National AIDS Strategy, including reducing HIV incidence and racial disparities in HIV infection rates, the authors conclude. The study was funded by The National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Montague BT, Rosen DL, Solomon L, Nunn A, Green T, Costa M, Baillargeon J, Wohl DA, Paar DP, Rich JD, On Behalf Of The Lincs Study Group. Tracking linkage to HIV care for former prisoners:  A public health priority.  Virulence. 2012 May 1;3(3). [Epub ahead of print]

About Abt Associates

Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates was ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms in 2011 and also named one of the top 40 international development innovators.  The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in nearly 40 countries. www.abtassociates.com


SOURCE Abt Associates