Being a former inmate with a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS is a toxic mix, and one that could easily lead to a life of recidivism. However, a New York-based organization that assists the formerly incarcerated make the transition from jail to the community announced earlier this month that it had received a grant to provide extended medical care and treatment to previously incarcerated people living with HIV/AIDS.
JoAnne Page, president and CEO of the Fortune Society, announced that the organization received a $250,000 grant from health care giant Kaiser Permanente to provide long-term care for former inmates living with HIV/AIDS. Page said the grant will be disbursed over a two-year period and will greatly enhance many of the services her organization already provides to its clients, including counseling, job training and mental health care and housing–all of the critical elements needed to stay on the right track. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is nearly four times higher among people in jail than the general public.
“Without support and a proper health plan in place, many recently released individuals become disconnected from care and return to behavior that often leads back to jail or prison,” Page said. “We are grateful to Kaiser Permanente.”
Glenn Martin, vice president of development and public affairs for the Fortune Society, said the stigma of incarceration and HIV/AIDS remains a barrier to eradicating the disease and raising awareness about prevention and treatment.
“This important grant from Kaiser will allow our organization to provide risk-reduction services to high-risk and formerly incarcerated individuals,” Martin said. “Part of our goal is to cultivate diversified partnerships with HIV/AIDS service providers.”
Among some of the added benefits under the grant will be the administration of an on-site, rapid HIV test for clients who come to the Fortune Society upon release from jail. The test kit–marketed by the Orasure Technologies–reveals the results of an HIV test in less than 30 minutes.
Lastly, the issue of HIV/AIDS in prison has been an ongoing issue for years. To its credit, the Fortune Society was one of the first major organizations to target the issue back in 1990, when it established HIV Health Services to provide counseling and referral services to ex-inmates living with the virus.
For more information about the Fortune Society, visit www.fortunesociety.org.