Mental health, substance abuse, and HIV disparities in correctional settings: practice and policy implications for African Americans

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2009 May;20(2 Suppl):6-16. doi: 10.1353/hpu.0.0154.


Mental health challenges, substance use disorders, and HIV/AIDS disproportionately affect Black people in correctional settings. Culturally responsive practice and equitable policy is predicated upon research that explores the burden, prevalence, and mortality of these public health concerns on the health and social well-being of African Americans in the correctional setting. This paper has three sections: (1) mental health; (2) substance abuse; and (3) HIV/AIDS. Each section summarizes current treatment issues unique to correctional settings, and provides recommendations for enhancing programs and policy to meet the needs of Black people who have been arrested, detained, incarcerated, paroled, or released. Further, we make recommendations for how interdisciplinary researchers and health care/treatment providers can engage in science-guided advocacy to address these issues and reduce related disparities experienced by people of African ancestry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Prisoners*
  • Prisons*
  • Public Health
  • Public Health Practice
  • Substance-Related Disorders*
  • United States / epidemiology