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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
5194.0: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - 2:30 PM

Abstract #115051

Women in prison: The need for effective public health interventions targeting HIV-risk behaviors and mental health problems

Kristen Clements-Nolle, PhD, MPH1, Matthew R. Wolden, BS1, Jessey Bargmann-Losche, BS1, Cyndi St Pierre, BS2, Michelle Washington, BS1, Jackie Crawford, BA3, and Jennifer Lozosky, MA4. (1) School of Public Health, University of Nevada, Reno, Mailstop 274, Reno, NV 89557, 775-784-4041 ext 234, clements@unr.edu, (2) School of Medicine, University of Nevada, Reno, Mailstop 332, Reno, NV 89557, (3) Director Crawford, Nevada Department of Corrections, P.O Box 7011, Carson City, NV 89702, (4) Southern Nevada Women's Correctional Center, 4370 Smiley Road, Las Vegas, NV 89115

Background: The number of women incarcerated in the US is increasing, and most will be released to the community. Understanding the HIV-risk behaviors and mental health problems of incarcerated women is critical for effective intervention.

Methods: 247 female prisoners in Nevada were randomly selected to conduct face-to-face interviews. Standardized measures were used to assess: 1) sociodemographics; 2) HIV-risk behaviors; 3) intimate partner abuse (HITS); 4) childhood abuse/neglect (CTQ); 5) psychological distress and disorders (BSI-18); and 6)suicide risk (SBQ-R).

Results: The sample was racially/ethnically diverse: White (56%), African-American (25%), Hispanic/Latina (11%), and Native American (7%). The mean age was 34.8 (range 20-72), 53% reported more than five lifetime arrests, and 69% were serving their first prison sentence. Six months before incarceration 75% had sex with a main male partner, 17% with a casual partner, and 14% with a paying partner. Intimate partner abuse by partner type was: main (31%), casual (14%), and paying (14%). Unprotected vaginal sex was: main (75%), casual (52%), and paying (29%). Twenty percent reported injection drug use six months before incarceration, of whom, 35% shared syringes receptively and 59% shared distributively. CTQ results demonstrated severe-extreme childhood emotional abuse (36%), sexual abuse (34%), physical abuse (30%), emotional neglect (29%), and physical neglect (13%). Twenty-seven percent met BSI criteria for clinically significant psychological distress, 31% had attempted suicide, and 24% were classified as suicidal.

Conclusions: HIV-risk behaviors and mental health problems were extremely prevalent among female prisoners in Nevada. Coordinated corrections and community-based interventions are urgently needed.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participants will be able to

Keywords: Prison, Women's Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Health of women in the community justice system and prison

The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA