Wednesday, September 21, 2016: 3:00 PM-4:15 PM
Criminalization and incarceration have often been mentioned as potential contributors to STD transmission. This session will explore the role of specific policies in STD/HIV prevention efforts. The first talk discusses how public health and human rights claims are often put forward for the criminalization of HIV and other STDs (e.g., preventing new infections, protecting sexual autonomy, particularly of women). Yet a closer analysis indicates that the frequently overbroad use of the criminal law is detrimental to both human rights and to public health, including impeding HIV/STD prevention and treatment. Where should the lines be drawn? And what might be the elements of useful “combination resistance” to overly broad HIV/STD criminalization? The second talk highlights how state drug policy may serve as a social determinant of health potentially impacting STI risk. State laws (including DC) were systematically analyzed regarding the following topics: 1) drug possession sentencing laws, 2) laws limiting access to public benefits based on felony drug convictions, and 3) laws precluding occupational licensure based on criminal convictions. This presentation illustrates how the circumstances resulting in criminal convictions, and their consequences, vary widely across states; findings may increase public health practitioners’ understanding of how drug policy potentially impacts STI risk. The final talk will focus on qualitative research conducted with a convenience sample of county jail staff and health care providers to explore how policies and protocols related to STD testing, treatment, and linkage to care; Medicaid; and re-entry services and linkages further promote or suppress successful STD prevention among populations that are more frequently incarcerated than other populations, as well as the communities to which they return. The research focused on eight counties across the country that reported a high number of STD infections across 3 of 4 disease areas (gonorrhea, primary and secondary syphilis, chlamydia, and HIV).
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