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NDRI researchers evaluate prison Hepatitis program


In an article published in the Journal of Correctional Health Care, researchers from the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI) reported on an evaluation of an intervention program within a prison system addressing Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Findings include recommendations for increasing Hepatitis C education and staff training, and expanding peer educators programming.

Hepatitis C virus is the most common chronic blood transmitted infectious disease in the United States today. The incidence is even higher among inmates in correctional facilities, with about a 9 times greater rate of infection. In addition, previous studies indicated that among those in the general population with the virus, a third or more pass through a correctional facility within a year’s period. For those maximizing the public health impact of preventive and treatment interventions, the correctional facility is a vital location; and for those running correctional facilities or setting policy in the criminal justice area, attention to the public health impact of Hepatitis C has become extremely important.

Researchers at NDRI examined the HCV-related educational, testing, and medical services offered within a drug treatment program at a correctional facility in California. The study describes the services offered, assesses client and staff perceptions of the advantages, benefits, and barriers to delivering services, and made recommendations for the future.

"This approach presents a tremendous opportunity to limit the spread of HCV," noted Dr. Shiela Strauss, one of the authors. Yet such programs do not exist at many correctional facilities. The authors also recommend the relatively low cost and sustainable approach of peer to peer educational programs to address this pressing public health challenge within the budget limitations of many correctional programs.

Betty Wagoner | EurekAlert!
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