EM1508B "Infectious Diseases and the Criminal Justice System: a Public Health Perspective" (IM GR-080715)

Over the past 4 decades, the number of individuals in the criminal justice system has increased dramatically (over 500%) in the United States, which leads the world in incarceration. Much of this increase is due to harsher drug sentencing laws which disproportionately affect disadvantaged members of society, including those who are mentally ill, poor, homeless and racial/ethnic minorities. Chronic medical illness is more common among jail and prison inmates and yet access to medical care after release from incarceration is more limited than in the general population. Incarceration is also disruptive to families and communities and contributes to health disparities in infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. Routine screening for STIs and HIV in the criminal justice system can identify many new infections in this high-risk population. Treatment for STIs and HIV in jails and prisons, and linkage to HIV services after release, has the potential to both improve individual outcomes and reduce transmission to others. Increased collaboration between the department of health and department of corrections, as well as partnerships between academic institutions and the criminal justice system, have the potential to improve outcomes in this vulnerable population.

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Target Audience

UT Southwestern faculty, fellows, residents and medical students, commnity physicians, nurse clinicians, physician assistants and nurses.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this activity, the participant should be able to:

  1. Describe the epidemiology of incarceration in the United States including temporal trends, demographics and medical issues among inmates.
  2. Describe the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections in incarcerated individuals, and the social and cultural factors which contribute to high rates of sexually transmitted infections in this population.
  3. Discuss the HIV care cascade in incarcerated and recently released individuals.
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.00 AMA
Course opens: 
Course expires: 

Photo: Ank Nijhawan, M.D.Ank E. Nijhawan, M.D., MPH
Assistant Professor
Division of Infectious Diseases
Department of Clinical Sciences
Division of Outcomes and Health Services Research

Available Credit

  • 1.00 AMA


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