Correctional Health Program
Did you know that people living in correctional facilities are approximately 20 times more likely to have hepatitis C and up to 10 times more likely to have hepatitis B than the general population?
Misinformation, lack of institutional resources, as well as how and why people are incarcerated within the U.S. all contribute to the high rates of viral hepatitis infection among people experiencing incarceration. Variation in policies and practices for screening and treatment of viral hepatitis means many incarcerated patients do not know their status, are unable to receive treatment, or may find it difficult to advocate for themselves. Since 2004, HEP has been involved with work to expand viral hepatitis education, testing, treatment in correctional facilities in hopes of stopping the spread behind bars and improving health outcomes for people who are incarcerated.
– Since 2004, HEP has been contracted by the Washington State Department of Corrections to conduct viral hepatitis and peer educator trainings at prisons and work release facilities throughout Washington State.
– In 2006, HEP began conducting viral hepatitis and harm reduction trainings to people living at the King County Correctional Facility, and we have since developed a partnership with the Seattle Municipal Court to expand educational opportunities for people who are justice-involved throughout King County.
– Since 2015, in addition to viral hepatitis classes, HEP began training people living in Washington prison facilities as peer educators in the SHIELD program. Self Help in Eliminating Life-threatening Diseases (SHIELD) is an evidence-based, HIV harm reduction intervention supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HEP collaborated with prison administrators to adapt the SHIELD curriculum for the correctional setting and incorporated viral hepatitis education into the training. SHIELD graduates are certified peer educators who are trained to communicate with others in their social networks about harm reduction for HIV and viral hepatitis. Peers often have greater credibility inside these networks, especially in prison, and they can reach people who may not be engaged in traditional voluntary educational programming. The goal is for accurate information about HIV and viral hepatitis prevention to reach as many people as possible.
– In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Correctional Health Program at HEP has modified and adapted in-person educational materials for self-directed correspondence delivery for people experiencing incarceration while spatial distancing measures are in place.
For each of these partnerships, the curriculum addresses a range of issues relevant to the diverse developmental and cultural composition found in correctional populations and includes:
– Modes of viral hepatitis and HIV disease transmission, methods for prevention, including harm reduction and immunization, disease outcomes, and options for treatment
– Safer options to prevent transmission of viral hepatitis and other blood borne infections
– Resources for formerly incarcerated individuals upon release, including referrals to community and public health facilities
– Support and resources for persons with chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection including transmission prevention, health promotion, and advocacy information
For information about either of these programs, or to learn more about how to design or implement blood borne infection or harm reduction trainings in the correctional setting, please contact us. To read more about our national efforts or for further resources on viral hepatitis in correctional settings, please visit the National Hepatitis Corrections Network.