The needs of a returning citizen vary with each individual. For some, the need might be for something most people take for granted, clean underwear and socks. For others it may be a place to live, or a job. But a survey of individuals who recently returned to the Bronx from prison, found that a growing number need medical treatment.
The survey was distributed by members of Health People, a unique Bronx, NY-based organization that trains people to be peer health educators. The peer health educators are representative of the people they serve, a valuable asset when doing outreach education. Not all of the peer health educators have a high school diploma. Some of them are recovering addicts. All of them are committed to making their neighborhood healthier. The organization targets three of the diseases that hit their area the hardest, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and asthma.
According to Health People, nine percent of all parolees from New York Prisons are released to the area in the Bronx that Health People services. But, even with the knowledge that residents of low-income areas usually face several medical issues, the organization learned more from the data collected from their survey. To learn more about Health People, click here to go to website .
After surveying 181 reentrants about substance abuse, HIV and Hepatitis C, Health People discovered:
68 percent had a substance abuse problem, 48 percent had a mental health issue, and 19 percent had a diagnosis of Hepatitis C
43 percent of respondents to the survey were treated for HIV while incarcerated
Testing for HIV while in prison was more prevalent than testing for Hepatitis C (165 out of the 181 surveyed said they were tested for HIV, while only 65 said they were tested for Hepatitis C).
The report states, “Substance abuse is a great issue among the participants, with the self reported rate among the participants being 68%. In addition 40% of participants with HIV and 54% of participants with Hepatitis C also report currently having a substance abuse problem. With the strong linkage between substance abuse, HIV and Hepatitis C within the community, making sure drug addicts are provided appropriate care is crucial to decrease the prevalence of the conditions within the parolee community.”
The report further reveals that 98 percent of those surveyed were connected to a health care resource upon release, but not all of the survey participants made themselves available for treatment.
A full copy of the Health Gaps Survey of Bronx Re-Entry Populations-2012 can be obtained by contacting Chris Norwood, the Executive Director of Health People, at ChrisNorwod@Healthpeople.org.
Due to its reputation for its commitment to helping people through peer health educators, Health People has attracted sponsorship for its grass-root study of medical conditions of reentrants from one of the world’s most respected organizations. The Elton John AIDS Foundation, which funded the survey, is involved in educating others about HIV/AIDS and HIV prevention click here to got o website .