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HIV-Infected Women Experience Worse Treatment Outcomes After Release From Jail

January 22, 2014

This article was reported by Yale News.

Yale News reported on a recent Yale study that found HIV-infected women had a more difficult time achieving optimal treatment outcomes after they were released from prison. The study, which examined treatment outcome differences by gender, found that six months after release from jail, women were considerably less apt to acquire any of the HIV treatment goals considered to be needed for optimal health.

The study explained those outcomes to be: meeting regularly with an HIV-care provider, gaining access to antiretroviral therapy, and maintaining viral suppression, which reduces HIV transmission to others. Women were found to obtain viral suppression half as much as their male counterparts. Not controlling viral load can also lead to a number of health problems.

"Women living with HIV and transitioning from jail often have severe psychiatric and substance use disorders that interfere with healthcare engagement. We have identified a gender-specific resource gap for people with HIV leaving jail and returning to communities," said first author Jaimie Meyer, M.D., of the infectious diseases section of Yale School of Medicine.

The US HIV epidemic has a strong connection to the criminal justice system, with one-sixth of all HIV-infected people experiencing jail or prison annually. Meyer and her partner study authors advocate that future HIV prevention strategies be customized to the specific needs of women in the criminal justice system.

The full report, "Gender Disparities in HIV Treatment Outcomes Following Release from Jail: Results from a Multicenter Study," was published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Public Health (2014; doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301553).

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