Women in peril: the health care needs of latina female inmates living with HIV/AIDS
G. Caraballo-Correa, C. Albizu-Garcia
Center for Evaluation and Sociomedical Research, Graduate School of Public Health, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Background: Women are the fastest growing segment of the US prison population. According to the US Bureau of Prisons, nearly 80% of female inmates are incarcerated for a drug-related offense. The high prevalence of injecting drug users has also contributed to disparities in the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among women in prison. Because women comprise less than 10% of the total US prison population, their health care and social needs are frequently subordinated to those of male inmates and services rendered do not always take into account the context of women's lives. This work describes the socio-demographic and health characteristics of female inmates living with HIV/AIDS and implications for the transition from prison to community.
Methods: A representative sample of the inmate population in the Puerto Rico prison system in 2005 was surveyed to assess drug treatment needs. Data was obtained on 1,179 respondents (89.7% response rate; 19% were female inmates). Questionnaires were administered through two interview modalities: Computer Assisted Personal Interview for social and health variables; Audio Computer Assisted Self Interview was used for sensitive information related to lifetime use of illicit drugs and alcohol and drug and alcohol use in prison.
Results: 62% are 35 years old or younger. 11% reported being HIV positive, 30% are infected with the HCV. 69% have a substance abuse disorder. 85% present co-morbidity with a psychiatric condition. 88% have a remaining sentence of 4 years of less while 61% of them have been incarcerated more than once.
Conclusions: Health care needs of female inmates infected with HIV/AIDS pose significant public health challenges. Implications for services planning within a public health framework will be presented.
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