December 19, 2012
The study, "Health Gaps Survey of Bronx Re-entry Populations," indicates that more than 40 percent of parolees and released prisoners sent to the Bronx from the state prisons have two or more major chronic conditions. The study also found that levels of hepatitis C testing and treatment in those released individuals are very low, even though hepatitis C is a major problem in prison populations. Only 36 percent of the released persons who were interviewed reported having been tested for hepatitis C.
The study interviewed 181 Bronx releasees. Among these, 68 percent reported substance abuse problems, 22 percent reported mental health problems, and 40 percent reported being in treatment for HIV/AIDS. Chris Norwood, executive director of Health People and lead author of the study, stated that the numbers underscore a crisis in health for parolees, which has to be addressed. He explained that it was not a random survey, but was focused on the poorest parolees with many staying in homeless shelters.
The study will be released at a public briefing at Health People Community Preventive Health Institute in the Bronx. Also, at the briefing the challenges the Bronx faces and the progress being made with its re-entry population will be discussed, including a discussion by the Bronx Borough Presidents' Office on the work of the new Bronx Re-Entry task force, community efforts by the Bronx Re-Entry working group to increase support services for returning prisoners, and early results of outcomes from a study of Health Seeking behavior among Bronx Re-Entry populations. Norwood stated that the Bronx is making great efforts to ensure health services and social support for parolees; but with the increase in numbers and the serious health issues of parolees, help is needed. The study was sponsored by the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The full study results are available by emailing ChrisNorwood@HealthPeople.org.