Date of Award

1-6-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Francis McCarty

Second Advisor

Donna Smith

Abstract

Higher rates of HIV are seen within correctional systems across the United States. Georgia has one of the largest correctional populations in the country and HIV rates among prisoners are elevated when compared to the state as a whole. The purpose of this project was to evaluate the Pre-Release Planning Program of the Georgia Department of Corrections and to identify reentry needs unique to persons living with HIV. This evaluation was informed by the post-release experiences of participants who described their own reentry journeys through semi-structured qualitative interviews. A convenience sample of 45 program participants was recruited to complete a qualitative interview following their release in 2009-2010. All 45 persons recruited consented to be contacted for an interview. A research interviewer successfully located 25 members of the original sample and they all agreed to participate. In addition a structure and process evaluation of the program was conducted. Recommendations for improvement were developed from the program evaluation and qualitative analysis of participants’ reentry experiences. For former program participants three central needs were identified: housing, health and income. Stigma and risk behaviors negatively impacted stability of housing, health and income. Strengths of the program included linkage to a Ryan White Clinic, provision of prison medical records, referrals to general social service agencies and its acceptability. The structural and individual challenges faced by persons living with HIV leaving the prison system demand comprehensive integrated services to assure access to HIV care and avoid recidivism. Minimally, housing, health and income must be addressed.

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Public Health Commons

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