OBJECTIVES: Testing is the first step in treatment and care for blood-borne viruses (BBVs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). As new treatments for viral hepatitis emerge, it is important to document effective models for BBV/STI testing. A nurse-led intervention was implemented across three prisons in Victoria to improve BBV/STI testing. We evaluated the impact of the intervention on BBV/STI testing rates and hepatitis B (HBV) vaccination for reception prisoners. METHODS: BBV/STI testing and HBV vaccination data were collected from the medical files of 100 consecutive reception prisoners at three prisons (n=300) prior to and after the intervention was implemented. RESULTS: BBV testing increased significantly from 21% of prisoners to 62% post-intervention. Testing for some STIs increased significantly, but remained low: 5% to 17% for chlamydia and 1% to 5% for gonorrhoea. HBV vaccination increased significantly from 2% to 19%. CONCLUSIONS: The nurse-led intervention resulted in substantially increased testing and vaccination, demonstrating the benefits of a concerted effort to improve BBV and STI management in correctional settings. IMPLICATIONS: The availability of new treatments for hepatitis C has precipitated expansion of treatment in prisons. Improving the testing rate of prisoners, the first step in the treatment cascade, will maximise the benefits.
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This study was funded by the Victorian Department of Health (formerly Department of Human Services). RW is supported by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Postgraduate Scholarship #603756 and the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence on Injecting Drug Use (#1001144). MS is supported by NHMRC Career Development Fellowship #1090445. SK is supported by NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship #1078168. MH is supported by NHMRC Principal Research Fellowship #1062877. The authors acknowledge the contribution to this work of the Victorian Operational Infrastructure Support Program.