Understanding the health needs of incarcerated men living with HIV/AIDS: a primary health care approach

J Am Psychiatr Nurses Assoc. 2011 Mar-Apr;17(2):158-70. doi: 10.1177/1078390311401617.


Nearly 20% of American men with HIV/AIDS pass through a correctional facility each year. As these men pass through the criminal justice system, discontinuation of health care access and nonadherence to prescribed treatments often occur. Men who are not engaged in health care during and after incarceration are at risk for treatment interruption and disease progression. Correctional facilities are therefore important sites for secondary prevention of HIV/AIDS. Unprecedented scientific attention and resources are currently directed at detecting and treating HIV in the criminal justice system. To support these efforts to increase health care access, we must have a better understanding of the cultural and situational factors that structure opportunities for secondary prevention during incarceration and during the transition from correctional facilities back into the community. This article presents a timely review of the literature on the health needs of incarcerated men living with HIV/AIDS. The author uses the primary health care framework to describe the movement of HIV-positive men through the criminal justice system as a series of strategic opportunities to initiate and establish a process of care. The author concludes that although we understand many of the challenges of providing care to men who become incarcerated, and have evidence of effective health-promoting services, we are only beginning to understand how to make health care services accessible and acceptable to HIV-positive male inmates, and we have not yet used some proven HIV prevention tools.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / nursing*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / psychology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission
  • HIV Infections / nursing*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Secondary Prevention