Incarceration and Health

People serving prison sentences have much higher rates of HIV, Hepatitis C, and tuberculosis than the general population. Unfortunately, competent HIV screening and care is inconsistently available. They also have higher rates of substance abuse and mental health concerns.  Once released, health care can continue to be inconsistent or inaccessible with all the life activities involved in transitioning back into the community. The health effects of individual people involved in the criminal justice system affect their families and communities as well. Managing chronic conditions of loved ones adds to the stress and cost of supporting someone returning from prison, and the costs of health care can result in untreated conditions that can be unintentionally transmitted to others. With the massive increases in prison populations, these health problems are an example of how mass incarceration is a public health issue as well as one of justice.

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Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights

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The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is 4-5 times higher among inmates than in the community.

Hepatitis C is 9-10 times more prevalent in correctional facilities than in the community.

Tuberculosis is up to 17 times more prevalent in prisons and jails than among the general population.

Justice-involved individuals like prisoners also suffer higher rates of hypertension, asthma, arthritis, and cervical cancer compared to the general population.

Inmates also age faster, demonstrating the physical health of individuals 10-15 years older in the community.

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Spotlight On

Karam Mounzer, MD

Dr. Mounzer identified two major gaps in the care of patients with HIV/hepatitis C (HCV) co-infection, and the complexity of multidrug-resistant HIV treatment. He is involved with many clinical trials focusing on drug development and better understanding of HIV immunopathogenesis with the Wistar Institute. He is involved in teaching and mentoring.

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Dr. Karam Mounzer

Dr. Mario Cruz

Dr. Mario CruzDr. Cruz is a board certified pediatrician who serves as the Medical Director for our Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Center. He has presented and/or published in the fields of community violence and domestic violence prevention, quality improvement, behavioral health, curriculum development and mentorship. In 2019 he received the Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Award for Innovations in Healthcare.


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