About 155,000 Americans living with HIV/AIDS (one in seven) are released from correctional facilities annually. Unstable housing can inhibit improvements in physical and mental health, result in the further spread of HIV, and increase incidences of emergency health care.
The report calls for targeted housing and other measures to prevent the cyclical nature of incarceration and unsteady access to treatment for those living with HIV/AIDS.
In correctional facilities, HIV/AIDS occurs in rates three to five times higher than that of the general population. Because access to HIV care is legally protected in correctional facilities, prisons and jails provide consistent HIV care that former inmates often lose with reentry into the community. In recent research:
A recent multisite study of HIV-positive men entering jail showed that 43% were newly diagnosed with HIV and 44% previously diagnosed men were homeless before they entered prison.
Upon being discharged, a Connecticut study found that 26% of inmates with HIV/AIDS were homeless and an additional 54% were “near homeless” when released.
The report provides a set of recommendations for improving housing and health outcomes, targeting formerly incarcerated individuals with HIV/AIDS. Large-scale studies find that housing assistance and health care yield positive health outcomes as well as cost saving for communities. The recommendations from NMAC and Housing Works include:
Providing greater access to housing through targeting resources,
Removing barriers to income and insurance measures, improving pre-release discharge plans, and
Evaluating effectiveness of programs for formerly incarcerated people with HIV/AIDS.
The report establishes the opportunity to stable and affordable housing as a primary factor in improving access to consistent treatment and limiting re-entry to prisons and jails.