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New Orleans Program Will Provide HIV, STI Testing, Treatment to Inmates

February 10, 2009

A new program launched at the New Orleans Parish jail will provide inmates with testing and treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman announced on Friday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. According to Gusman, the program also will provide people with information about clinics that can continue care after they are released.

Although not everyone who is arrested and booked at the jail's Intake and Processing Center will be offered the testing, those who stay at the jail for a few days will receive the comprehensive STI testing, counseling and any needed treatment, the jail's Medical Director Samuel Gore said. According to Gusman, targeting the population is important because inmates are the "most at-risk population." The program is run in partnership with city and state health offices, which will supply staff and laboratory support to jail medical staff. According to the Times-Picayune, the state Office of Public Health will work with people who test positive for STIs.

The tests will include those for HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis, and inmates will be referred to the Delgado Personal Health Clinic once they are released. The program is based on an initiative that began in 2008 to provide female inmates with HIV testing, counseling and treatment. According to Gore, the program was popular among the inmates, many of whom were receptive about learning their HIV status. "Mostly they hear about it from someone else, and they offer to get tested themselves," he said, adding, "They are volunteering" (Maggi, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 2/7).

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