July 18, 2013
Researchers at Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine and Regenstrief Institute investigated the relationship between individuals released from the justice system and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), using existing justice system and public health data. The researchers presented the findings at the STI & AIDS World Congress in Vienna, Austria, July 14-17.
Sarah E. Wiehe, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at IU School of Medicine and an affiliated scientist at the Regenstrief Institute, and colleagues worked with Indiana's Marion County Court, the Marion County Health Department, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and the Indiana Department of Corrections. The researchers tracked 260,000 youths and adults who had been involved with the justice system for arrest, jail, juvenile detention, and juvenile or adult prison from 2000 to 2008.
According to Wiehe, of the individuals who tested positive for STIs from 2000-2008, 16 percent contracted the infection during the first year of release from the justice system. Wiehe noted the risk was especially high for those released from the juvenile system. Wiehe posited that the one-year period after release from the justice system provided a great opportunity to reduce STI rates and that moderately successful efforts to reduce post-incarceration STI and STI risk could have positive effects on the community STI burden.