PloS one 2018 02 1213(2) e0192074 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0192074
Incarcerated people remain a priority group in efforts to control and reverse the HIV epidemic. Following release, social instability and reengagement in key transmission risk behaviors increase the risk of secondary transmission of HIV. Targeted programs have been developed to facilitate reengagement in care on reentry. Evaluation of the impact of these initiatives requires a systematic, confidential, framework for assessment of linkage to care for persons released from corrections. By linking HIV viral load surveillance data to corrections release data, the time to the first laboratory monitoring service in the community as well as the virologic status can be assessed. Using this method, we linked release data for sentenced individuals released from Massachusetts state correctional facilities in 2012 to HIV surveillance data from the Massachusetts HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program (MHASP) for the years 2012-2013. We identified 41 individuals with HIV released in 2012. Ninety-one percent had identified virologic assessments post release, 41% within 30 days. Thirty-three percent did not have a viral load assessed for more than 90 days and 31% had detectable virus at the time of their initial assessment. Persons with longer incarcerations (> 180 days) were more likely to have suppressed viral load at the time of follow-up (p = 0.05). This work demonstrates the important value of HIV laboratory surveillance data and correctional release data as a tool to assess linkage to care following release from corrections. We encourage jurisdictions to explore utilizing similar methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of the linkage to HIV care after release from incarceration.