Fewer than half of PLWH in Connecticut who were incarcerated and later released were still in HIV care three years after their release, a longitudinal study published in PLOS Medicine found.
One year after release, 67.2% of formerly incarcerated people had been retained in care, but that proportion dropped to 42.5% for the entire three-year period.
Researchers linked statewide databases to analyze information on 1,094 PLWH, each of whom was followed for three years after release. Although a return to jail or prison necessarily meant a return to HIV care, viral suppression rates were worse among that group than among those who remained in the community (72% versus 81%). Health insurance, HIV treatment in jail or prison, case management, and early linkage to care upon release were associated with better treatment outcomes.
Study authors called for policy changes, such as avoiding suspension of health insurance enrollment; having probation/parole promote health care engagement, including psychiatric care; and pre- and post-release substance use treatment, concluding: "Such changes in policy will likely positively influence HIV treatment outcomes while diminishing the negative consequences of mass incarceration, especially for racial/ethnic minorities in the U.S."