Women, HIV and the Criminal Justice System in the US

14 May 2018

The number of US women involved in the criminal justice systems (ICJS) has ballooned since 1970. In 2015, approximately 110,000 women were imprisoned in local jails, 111,000 were in state or federal prison, almost 950,000 were on probation, and 113,000 were on parole.1-3 These women are at high risk for infection with HIV. Jaimie P. Meyer, MD, MS, FACP, assistant professor of medicine in the section of Infectious Diseases' AIDS Program at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and her colleagues are studying the issue of HIV in people ICJS and working to identify opportunities to reduce the risk for transmission, particularly in women ICJS.

Dr. Meyer and her associates recently published findings from a survey of 125 Connecticut women ICJS concerning HIV risk and prevention. Eligible participants were adult women without HIV infection who were on probation, parole, or pretrial supervision or had been released from prison or jail in the past 60 days. The women were questioned about demographic characteristics, participation in behaviors that increase the risk for HIV, the use of healthcare resources over the past year, and knowledge and beliefs regarding HIV and antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

This article discusses the disproportionate risk for contracting HIV women ICJS are in compared with women in the general population. In addition to adequate prevention services, treatment and care, Dr. Meyer also stresses the importance of increasing women's knowledge around HIV, empowering high-risk women as health care consumers by increasing public and social messaging about PrEP for women and drawing attention to the specific needs of ICJS and design interventions accordingly.

Read the full article online here.