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HIV/HepC/depression and locked up

Jul 29, 2006

I am a social worker conducting visits with a woman who was recently diagnosed with HIV/Hepatitis C. She is currently locked up for drug use and losing custody of her 2 children. She has yet to see a doctor since the diagnosis. She is also VERY depressed. I am attempting to get her help but am so limited with her being locked up. She doesn't have the money to see the doctor in jail. Does she need to start some sort of treatment at this point? I am currently researching as much as possible regarding her diagnosis but this is not common for the field I am currently in. I am in need of some information so I can help her. Thank you for your time and what a great website!

Response from Dr. Horwath

Her need for antiretroviral treatment depends on whether she has symptoms (eg. weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea) and her CD4 count and viral load. Yes, she needs to see a doctor to be evaluated. It is the responsibility of the criminal justice system to provide her with access to proper medical care, and that includes proper psychiatric care. If she is depressed, then a psychiatric evalaution is needed. In particular, losing custody of her children can be devastating for a mother, and she should be evaluated for the risk of suicidal behavior.

lack of trust in care providers

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