Recent research data which was collected from U. S. correctional institutions is showing that there are over 2.1 million prisoners who either already have the HIV virus when admitted to jail or have a chance of being infected whilst they are serving their sentences. Data also shows that they also have a greater risk of contracting both hepatitis B and hepatitis C along with tuberculosis. It is also known that those which go into jail carrying any of these infections pose a high risk to those already incarcerated but as yet have a clean bill of health. Most of those already infected are due to taking drugs on the outside and using shared needles and the growing numbers of those who sell sex.
The best time to impact sexual health education
Whilst in this jail setting I feel that this is possibly one of the best times that we can try to educate the whole jail population with sexual health, and how to stay healthy food wise and hope that they will take this information with them and use it once they return to a normal outside life. On admission would be the best time to have a range of STD tests carried out and if they are positive treatment could then begin, however, data found that upon release that those who had the HIV virus were not continuing their treatment plans, and that this was purely down to areas of confidentiality. When a prisoner is released the prison has a duty to refer them to a parole officer who helps them initially to find a job and a place to live, but the prison authorities are not allowed to pass on any health information due to data confidentiality policy. It is therefore up to the actual prisoner to divulge that they have the HIV virus and are on a treatment plan to this officer who can then find them a doctor on the outside so they are able to continue their treatment. Due to the stigma and the problems that having HIV causes when applying for work it is thought that only a third of those released with the virus actually admit to having it.
Testing in prisons
It is all well and good testing the prison population but the U. S. government have not thought beyond that initial test and result that comes back. So other than providing them with a medication regime they do not have the financial funds set aside to allow these people to talk and receive any counseling which they may need to learn about HIV and what they must do to protect themselves and others both inside or out of prison.
I and I are surely many others feel that we need to implement help to stop the vicious cycle of not just committing the crime and being put in jail for it. And the only way to stop this and the health issues that come alongside it is to educate everyone not just in how to prevent the HIV virus but all the other STD viruses and infections as well.