University of Pittsburgh Researcher Recommends Ways to Improve HIV Care in U.S. Prisons
PITTSBURGH, July 2, 1998 — Changes are needed in the prison system in the United States, says Linda Frank, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and chair of the Jail and Prison Committee of the American Public Health Association, particularly when it comes to HIV care for inmates.
Findings presented by Dr. Frank on July 2 at the 12th World AIDS Conference suggest that educating prison and jail health care providers about new treatments, developing peer-based education for inmates and identifying HIV-infected inmates can enhance overall care for inmates and reduce the risk of transmission of HIV in prison.
"We are hoping that by adopting these changes, HIV-infected patients will be identified as early as possible and entered into care immediately," said Dr. Frank. "For those patients already receiving treatment, we are hoping to increase their adherence to the complicated drug regimens, which sometimes involve up to 18 pills a day," said Dr. Frank.
Based on her assessment of current health care practices, standards and policies for HIV/AIDS in the correctional system, Dr. Frank and her colleagues have proposed the following recommendations to improve care given to inmates.
Train health care providers with the latest information on HIV management;
Train inmates about adherence and allow them to participate in the administration of the drugs;
Educate inmates about HIV prevention;
Provide HIV testing and offer early intervention;
Develop treatment plans; and
Establish links among universities, community organizations, correctional facilities and probation and parole officers to develop a plan to improve prevention, treatment and follow-up for HIV-infected inmates.