Evaluation of routine HIV opt-out screening and continuum of care services following entry into eight prison reception centers — California, 2012
Continuity of Patient Care
Early diagnosis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and initiation of antiretroviral treatment (ART) improves health outcomes and prevents HIV transmission. Before 2010, HIV testing was available to inmates in the California state prison system upon request. In 2010, the California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) integrated HIV opt-out screening into the health assessment for inmates entering California state prisons. Under this system, a medical care provider informs the inmate that an HIV test is routinely done, along with screening for sexually transmitted, communicable, and vaccine-preventable diseases, unless the inmate specifically declines the test. During 2012-2013, CCHCS, the California Department of Public Health, and CDC evaluated HIV screening, rates of new diagnoses, linkage to and retention in care, ART response, and post-release linkage to care among California prison inmates. All prison inmates are processed through one of eight specialized reception center facilities, where they undergo a comprehensive evaluation of their medical needs, mental health, and custody requirements for placement in one of 35 state prisons. Among 17,436 inmates who entered a reception center during April-September 2012, 77% were screened for HIV infection; 135 (1%) tested positive, including 10 (0.1%) with newly diagnosed infections. Among the 135 HIV-positive patient-inmates, 134 (99%) were linked to care within 90 days of diagnosis, including 122 (91%) who initiated ART. Among 83 who initiated ART and remained incarcerated through July 2013, 81 (98%) continued ART; 71 (88%) achieved viral suppression (<200 HIV RNA copies/mL). Thirty-nine patient-inmates were released on ART; 12 of 14 who were linked to care within 30 days of release were virally suppressed at that time. Only one of nine persons with a viral load test conducted between 91 days and 1 year post-release had viral suppression. Although high rates of viral suppression were achieved in prison, continuity of care in the community remains a challenge. An infrastructure for post-release linkage to care is needed to help ensure sustained HIV disease control.