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A last word on health care
By Jim Montalto, News Editor
Published: 08/18/2008

0818virus In the latest, and final, edition of the Infectious Diseases in Corrections Report, Brooke E. Hoots, from the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health, and Dr. David A. Wohl, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina’s AIDS clinical research unit, cover a topic that has for years been near and dear to the publication’s editors and writers. Issue after issue, IDCR has attempted to bring the latest corrections medical news to a community that faces the incongruous task of caring for a population that frequently intermingles its healthy and infirmed.

Close quarters, the inmates’ lack of understanding, or care, of health-related issues, and, at times, their inability to know their own wellness, contributes to the challenges corrections medical professionals must face, be it a simple ailment such as the common cold or something far larger, and possibly fatal, like MRSA and AIDS.

The feature article, Rapid HIV Testing: Coming to a jail near you? proclaims the need to move away from conventional HIV testing in jail settings and instead consider rapid HIV tests, with the following reasoning:

“The turn-around time for conventional HIV testing has often been an insurmountable obstacle to HIV screening of at-risk populations such as those who are homeless or migratory. A failure to return for HIV test results is not unique to community HIV screening; the transient nature of those who are jailed has prevented wider spread HIV testing in this setting.”
Rapid testing, the report claims, not only allows for the expansion of HIV screenings, but it also eliminates the need for return visits.

“Rapid HIV testing is particularly suited to use in jails due to the transient nature of inmates in this environment. Testing can be conducted quickly, does not require extensive training of the tester, and the results are provided immediately.”
The article contains a short review of a Rhode Island study that proved the efficiency of rapid HIV testing. It then goes on to in-depth analysis of the currently available FDA-approved rapid tests and their respective sensitivity and specificity. HIV counseling also is discussed along with a review of data culled from a CDC-supported effort to introduce rapid HIV testing for Florida, Louisiana, New York, and Wisconsin jail inmates.

The issue concludes much like previous editions, with the authors urging facilities to consider, embrace and implement strategies that can only improve the overall care and health of its inmates, staff and community.

In the final “Letter from the Editor,” Executive Editor, Annie De Groot, mentions IDCR returning “in a new form, under a different guise.” Let’s hope this return is soon, as the end of a publication that brings to light strategies motivated to improve a field needing solutions will be a greatly missed asset.

Read the full report here .


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