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  1. Choi P, Kavasery R, Desai MM, Govindasamy S, Kamarulzaman A, Altice FL
    Int J STD AIDS, 2010 Jun;21(6):416-23.
    PMID: 20606222 DOI: 10.1258/ijsa.2009.009180
    HIV-infected prisoners face an inordinate number of community re-entry challenges. In 2007, 102 HIV-infected prisoners in Malaysia were surveyed anonymously within six months prior to release to assess the prevalence and correlates of community re-entry challenges. Staying out of prison (60.8%), remaining off drugs (39.2%), finding employment (35.3%) and obtaining HIV care (32.4%) were the re-entry challenges reported most frequently. Global stigma, negative self-image and public attitudes-related stigma were independently associated with challenges to obtaining HIV care. In multivariate analyses, those with previous incarcerations (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 3.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.4-7.6), higher HIV-related symptoms (AOR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.0-4.1) and higher public attitudes-related stigma (AOR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.2-5.1) had a significantly higher likelihood of identifying more re-entry challenges. Targeted interventions, such as effective drug treatment, HIV care and public awareness campaigns, are crucial for stemming the HIV epidemic and improving health outcomes among HIV-infected prisoners in Malaysia.
  2. Mukherjee TI, Wickersham JA, Desai MM, Pillai V, Kamarulzaman A, Altice FL
    Drug Alcohol Depend, 2016 07 01;164:120-7.
    PMID: 27207155 DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.04.037
    INTRODUCTION: Methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) is crucial for HIV prevention and treatment in people who inject opioids. In Malaysia, a large proportion of the prison population is affected by both HIV and opioid use disorders. This study assessed individual preferences and factors associated with interest in receiving MMT among male prisoners meeting criteria for opioid dependence in Malaysia.

    METHODS: A convenience sample of 96 HIV-positive and 104 HIV-negative incarcerated men who met pre-incarceration criteria for opioid dependence was interviewed using a structured questionnaire to examine participant characteristics and attitudes toward MMT. Factors associated with interest in prison-based MMT initiation were identified using logistic regression analysis.

    RESULTS: Among all participants, 85 (42.5%) were interested in receiving MMT within prison. Independent correlates of interest in prison-based MMT were being previously married (AOR=4.15, 95% CI: 1.15, 15.02), previously incarcerated (AOR=5.68, 95% CI: 1.54, 21.02), depression (AOR=3.66, 95% CI: 1.68, 7.98), daily heroin use in the 30days prior to incarceration (AOR=5.53, 95% CI: 1.65, 18.58), and more favorable attitudes toward MMT (AOR=19.82, 95% CI: 6.07, 64.74).

    CONCLUSIONS: Overall, interest in receiving prison-based MMT was low, and was associated with adverse social, mental health, and drug use consequences. Incarceration provides a unique opportunity to initiate MMT for those who need it, however, optimal scale-up efforts must be systemic and address modifiable factors like improving attitudes toward and motivation for MMT. Informed or shared decision-making tools may be useful in improving expectations and acceptability of MMT.

  3. Loeliger KB, Altice FL, Desai MM, Ciarleglio MM, Gallagher C, Meyer JP
    Lancet HIV, 2018 02;5(2):e96-e106.
    PMID: 29191440 DOI: 10.1016/S2352-3018(17)30209-6
    BACKGROUND: Incarceration provides an opportunity for engagement in HIV care but is associated with poor HIV treatment outcomes after release. We aimed to assess post-release linkage to HIV care (LTC) and the effect of transitional case management services.

    METHODS: To create a retrospective cohort of all adults with HIV released from jails and prisons in Connecticut, USA (2007-14), we linked administrative custody and pharmacy databases with mandatory HIV/AIDS surveillance monitoring and case management data. We examined time to LTC (defined as first viral load measurement after release) and viral suppression at LTC. We used generalised estimating equations to show predictors of LTC within 14 days and 30 days of release.

    FINDINGS: Among 3302 incarceration periods for 1350 individuals between 2007 and 2014, 672 (21%) of 3181 periods had LTC within 14 days of release, 1042 (34%) of 3064 had LTC within 30 days of release, and 301 (29%) of 1042 had detectable viral loads at LTC. Factors positively associated with LTC within 14 days of release are intermediate (31-364 days) incarceration duration (adjusted odds ratio 1·52; 95% CI 1·19-1·95), and transitional case management (1·65; 1·36-1·99), receipt of antiretroviral therapy during incarceration (1·39; 1·11-1·74), and two or more medical comorbidities (1·86; 1·48-2·36). Reincarceration (0·70; 0·56-0·88) and conditional release (0·62; 0·50-0·78) were negatively associated with LTC within 14 days. Hispanic ethnicity, bonded release, and psychiatric comorbidity were also associated with LTC within 30 days but reincarceration was not.

    INTERPRETATION: LTC after release is suboptimal but improves when inmates' medical, psychiatric, and case management needs are identified and addressed before release. People who are rapidly cycling through jail facilities are particularly vulnerable to missed linkage opportunities. The use of integrated programmes to align justice and health-care goals has great potential to improve long-term HIV treatment outcomes.

    FUNDING: US National Institutes of Health.

  4. Jin H, Earnshaw VA, Wickersham JA, Kamarulzaman A, Desai MM, John J, et al.
    AIDS Care, 2014;26(10):1223-8.
    PMID: 24625279 DOI: 10.1080/09540121.2014.894616
    Stigma perpetuated by health-care providers has been found to be a barrier to care for vulnerable populations, including HIV-infected, people who inject drugs (PWIDs), and men who have sex with men (MSM) in multiple clinical contexts and remains unexamined among professional health-care students in Malaysia. This cross-sectional, anonymous, and Internet-based survey assessed the attitudes of medical and dental students toward HIV-infected, PWID, and MSM patients. Survey invitation was emailed to 3191 students at 8 professional schools; 1296 (40.6%) responded and scored their attitudes toward these patient groups using a feeling thermometer, indicating their attitudes on a sliding scale from 0 (most negative) to 100 (most positive). Compared to general patients (mean = 76.50), the mean scores for HIV-infected (mean = 54.04; p < 0.001), PWID (mean = 37.50; p < 0.001), and MSM (mean = 32.13; p < 0.001) patients were significantly lower and significantly different between each group comparison. Within group differences, most notably religion, ethnicity, and personally knowing someone from these populations were associated with significant differences in attitudes. No differences were noted between pre-clinical and clinical year of training. Health-care students represent the next generation of clinicians who will be responsible for future HIV prevention and treatment efforts. Our findings suggest alarmingly negative attitudes toward these patients, especially MSM, necessitating prompt and effective interventions designed to ameliorate the negative attitudes of health-care students toward vulnerable populations, specifically HIV-infected, PWID, and MSM patients in Malaysia.
  5. Loeliger KB, Meyer JP, Desai MM, Ciarleglio MM, Gallagher C, Altice FL
    PLoS Med., 2018 10;15(10):e1002667.
    PMID: 30300351 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002667
    BACKGROUND: Sustained retention in HIV care (RIC) and viral suppression (VS) are central to US national HIV prevention strategies, but have not been comprehensively assessed in criminal justice (CJ) populations with known health disparities. The purpose of this study is to identify predictors of RIC and VS following release from prison or jail.

    METHODS AND FINDINGS: This is a retrospective cohort study of all adult people living with HIV (PLWH) incarcerated in Connecticut, US, during the period January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2011, and observed through December 31, 2014 (n = 1,094). Most cohort participants were unmarried (83.7%) men (77.0%) who were black or Hispanic (78.1%) and acquired HIV from injection drug use (72.6%). Prison-based pharmacy and custody databases were linked with community HIV surveillance monitoring and case management databases. Post-release RIC declined steadily over 3 years of follow-up (67.2% retained for year 1, 51.3% retained for years 1-2, and 42.5% retained for years 1-3). Compared with individuals who were not re-incarcerated, individuals who were re-incarcerated were more likely to meet RIC criteria (48% versus 34%; p < 0.001) but less likely to have VS (72% versus 81%; p = 0.048). Using multivariable logistic regression models (individual-level analysis for 1,001 individuals after excluding 93 deaths), both sustained RIC and VS at 3 years post-release were independently associated with older age (RIC: adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.61, 95% CI = 1.22-2.12; VS: AOR = 1.37, 95% CI = 1.06-1.78), having health insurance (RIC: AOR = 2.15, 95% CI = 1.60-2.89; VS: AOR = 2.01, 95% CI = 1.53-2.64), and receiving an increased number of transitional case management visits. The same factors were significant when we assessed RIC and VS outcomes in each 6-month period using generalized estimating equations (for 1,094 individuals contributing 6,227 6-month periods prior to death or censoring). Additionally, receipt of antiretroviral therapy during incarceration (RIC: AOR = 1.33, 95% CI 1.07-1.65; VS: AOR = 1.91, 95% CI = 1.56-2.34), early linkage to care post-release (RIC: AOR = 2.64, 95% CI = 2.03-3.43; VS: AOR = 1.79; 95% CI = 1.45-2.21), and absolute time and proportion of follow-up time spent re-incarcerated were highly correlated with better treatment outcomes. Limited data were available on changes over time in injection drug use or other substance use disorders, psychiatric disorders, or housing status.

    CONCLUSIONS: In a large cohort of CJ-involved PLWH with a 3-year post-release evaluation, RIC diminished significantly over time, but was associated with HIV care during incarceration, health insurance, case management services, and early linkage to care post-release. While re-incarceration and conditional release provide opportunities to engage in care, reducing recidivism and supporting community-based RIC efforts are key to improving longitudinal treatment outcomes among CJ-involved PLWH.

  6. Loeliger KB, Altice FL, Ciarleglio MM, Rich KM, Chandra DK, Gallagher C, et al.
    Lancet HIV, 2018 11;5(11):e617-e628.
    PMID: 30197101 DOI: 10.1016/S2352-3018(18)30175-9
    BACKGROUND: People transitioning from prisons or jails have high mortality, but data are scarce for people with HIV and no studies have integrated data from both criminal justice and community settings. We aimed to assess all-cause mortality in people with HIV released from an integrated system of prisons and jails in Connecticut, USA.

    METHODS: We linked pharmacy, custodial, death, case management, and HIV surveillance data from Connecticut Departments of Correction and Public Health to create a retrospective cohort of all adults with HIV released from jails and prisons in Connecticut between 2007 and 2014. We compared the mortality rate of adults with HIV released from incarceration with the general US and Connecticut populations, and modelled time-to-death from any cause after prison release with Cox proportional hazard models.

    FINDINGS: We identified 1350 people with HIV who were released after 24 h or more of incarceration between 2007 and 2014, of whom 184 (14%) died after index release; median age was 45 years (IQR 39-50) and median follow-up was 5·2 years (IQR 3·0-6·7) after index release. The crude mortality rate for people with HIV released from incarceration was 2868 deaths per 100 000 person-years, and the standardised mortality ratio showed that mortality was higher for this cohort than the general US population (6·97, 95% CI 5·96-7·97) and population of Connecticut (8·47, 7·25-9·69). Primary cause of death was reported for 170 individuals; the most common causes were HIV/AIDS (78 [46%]), drug overdose (26 [15%]), liver disease (17 [10%]), cardiovascular disease (16 [9%]), and accidental injury or suicide (13 [8%]). Black race (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 0·52, 95% CI 0·34-0·80), having health insurance (0·09, 0·05-0·17), being re-incarcerated at least once for 365 days or longer (0·41, 0·22-0·76), and having a high percentage of re-incarcerations in which antiretroviral therapy was prescribed (0·08, 0·03-0·21) were protective against mortality. Positive predictors of time-to-death were age (≥50 years; adjusted HR 3·65, 95% CI 1·21-11·08), lower CD4 count (200-499 cells per μL, 2·54, 1·50-4·31; <200 cells per μL, 3·44, 1·90-6·20), a high number of comorbidities (1·86, 95% CI 1·23-2·82), virological failure (2·76, 1·94-3·92), and unmonitored viral load (2·13, 1·09-4·18).

    INTERPRETATION: To reduce mortality after release from incarceration in people with HIV, resources are needed to identify and treat HIV, in addition to medical comorbidities, psychiatric disorders, and substance use disorders, during and following incarceration. Policies that reduce incarceration and support integrated systems of care between prisons and communities could have a substantial effect on the survival of people with HIV.

    FUNDING: US National Institutes of Health.

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