The Denver Postis reporting that a new agreement between the city’s Sheriff Department and Colorado’s public health agency will provide jailed inmates who have HIV with antiretroviral medication. The Denver sheriff's department signed a three-year memorandum of understanding with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to provide HIV meds to inmates incarcerated in the city’s two jails for more than 30 days.
HIV-positive inmates will also be given a supply of antiretroviral medication when they are released. Simon Crittle, a sheriff's department spokesman told The Post that approximately one percent of the inmate population — which averages around 2,050 prisoners any given day — are HIV-positive.
The sheriff's department actually has been providing medication for HIV-positive prisoners for at least the past five years, during which the department spent over $1 million on HIV meds. Crittle reported that this was nearly 40 percent of the jail's medical costs during that period.
Mark Salley, a spokesman for Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Denver isn’t the first county jail system in the state to sign an agreement to provide antiretroviral medication to HIV-positive inmates.
According to the Post, “Most HIV-positive inmates already are enrolled in the Colorado AIDS Drug Assistance Program when they are arrested,” but Crittle said that, in the past, those patients would be dropped from the state’s program while they were in jail. They would then be allowed to re-enroll once they were released from jail.
That led to a medication gap, Crittle added. Not to mention shifting the cost of the meds from the assistance program to the sheriff department.
As a recent study reiterated, it is essential for patients to maintain adherence to their treatments to keep HIV from attacking their immune system or developing a resistance to the drugs. Now sheriff's deputies will be able to help inmates enroll in the Colorado AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which can purchase medication at a lower cost than the sheriff's department.
In addition, when they are released inmates will continue to receive HIV medication without delays.
"It's just getting their meds from the same supply the whole time, saving the city and county money and closing the gap," Crittle concluded.