Florida: Inmates Like Fast, Bloodless Test for HIV Offered at Jails
February 7, 2007
Inmates in the Palm Beach County Jail spend, on average, 10 days in the facility. Because conventional HIV test results were usually returned in about two weeks, most inmates who tested had been released before learning their serostatus. But about two months ago, the jail began using OraSure rapid-result oral HIV tests; now, inmates can get their results within an hour.
The screening program is a joint effort of the Sheriff's Office, the Palm Beach County Health Department and the jail's medical provider, Armor Correctional Health Care. Funding is provided in part through a bill sponsored by state Sen. Frederica Wilson (D-Miami). In other Florida jails, rapid testing is helping prevent HIV transmission and increase serostatus awareness, said Marlene LaLota, state Bureau of HIV/AIDS program administrator.
In Palm Beach County, about 1 percent of inmates tested were HIV-positive. Since November, 500 inmates have had the rapid HIV test. That rate could grow in response to programs to increase testing, said LaLota.
County commissioners have expressed an interest in making the testing mandatory; however, Susan Dean, medical contract manager for the jail, said inmates who have not been convicted have the right to refuse treating and medical treatment. In addition, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said additional funding would have to be found to comply with a requirement to test all 100,000 people who pass through the jail annually.
Testing at jails makes sense, said Wilson, since many at-risk inmates arrested for sex work or drugs go to jail rather than in prison.
Palm Beach Post
02.02.07; Antigone Barton
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.