Nav: Home

Study examines factors of inmate relationships during incarceration and STI/HIV prevention

April 10, 2017

HIV incidence among African-American men is nearly eight times that of white men, and twice that of Latino men. Incarceration, which disproportionately affects African-American men, is thought to be a factor in this wide disparity. There have been strong, independent associations drawn between history of incarceration, sexual risk behaviors, and sexually transmitted infection (STI). However, research on the sex partnerships of incarcerated African-American men and the types of partnerships most likely to protect against STI/HIV-related sex risk is limited.

To address this need, Dr. Maria Khan, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor in the New York University School of Medicine's Department of Population Health and affiliated researcher of the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing, Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (NYU CDUHR) conducted the study, "The Committed Inmate Relationships During Incarceration and STI/HIV Prevention," published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. The study's aim was to characterize the relationships of incarcerated African-Americans and the influence of those characteristics in protection against STI/HIV risk when in the community, when STI/HIV transmission risk is greatest.

"We identified subgroups of participants with distinct relationship profiles and measured associations between relationship characteristics and multiple partnerships of inmates and their partners in the six months before incarceration," said Dr. Khan.

The data were drawn from Project DISRUPT, a cohort study of African-American men (N = 207) being released from prison in North Carolina who were in committed heterosexual partnerships at prison entry.

The researchers stress the importance of understanding these relationships because some correctional settings do offer family-strengthening programs for inmates and their committed partners, however most programs are designed for married couples.

"Unfortunately while a majority of inmates have committed partners, only a minority are married said Dr. Khan."

To better understand the most common kinds of relationships of African American men who enter prison, Dr. Khan and her team interviewed African-American male inmates in committed relationships at the time of prison entry, assessing demographic/socioeconomic characteristics and relationship quality indicators.

They found the average committed relationship was three years. The vast majority were in partnerships characterized by stability; they lived together, helped one another financially, raised children together, reported relationship satisfaction, and were together for multiple years or longer. Satisfaction indicators--versus length, marriage, or cohabitation--were the strongest independent correlates of inmates' and partners' multiple partnerships. Pre-incarceration economic deprivation, mental disorder symptoms, substance use, and violence in relationships were associated with dissatisfaction/instability.

"Being in a marital or non-marital partnership with high levels of relationship satisfaction - which was a majority of committed partnerships -- was associated with protection against non-monogamy for inmates and their partners," notes Dr. Khan.

Additionally, the results highlighted many of the barriers to maintaining the non-marital relationships such as: limited phone time; distance from prison; expense of visiting; and child-care expenses.

"The study's findings highlight a need for criminal justice policies and programs that support the partnerships of inmates by reducing barriers to maintaining healthy ties during incarceration, strengthening relationship skills during incarceration, and addressing factors underlying dissatisfaction/instability, STI/HIV risk, and violence," said Dr. Khan.

The researchers note that the most significant limitation of this study was that they were unable to interview the female partners of the study participants.

This study begins to fill an important research gap and suggests that family-strengthening programs and couple-level interventions that improve relationship skills and address STI/HIV risk are appropriate for inmates in a broad range of marital and non-marital committed partnerships.

"Prison-based programs designed to maintain healthy partnerships, strengthen relationship skills, and reduce HIV risk-taking and violence in relationships are warranted and should be targeted to both marital and non-marital partnerships," said Dr. Khan. "Programming also should address the poverty, mental illness, and substance use factors that threaten relationship satisfaction/stability and increase HIV risk."

Improved understanding can inform expansion of correctional facility-based family-strengthening programs to a greater proportion of protective partnerships and HIV risk reduction programs to partnerships vulnerable to sex risk.
-end-
Researcher affiliations

Maria R. Khan1 Nabila El-Bassel2 Carol E. Golin3,4 Joy D. Scheidell1 Adaora A. Adimora5,6 Ashley M. Coatsworth7 Hui Hu7 Selena Judon-Monk5 Katie P. Medina5 David A. Wohl5

1Division of Comparative Effectiveness and Decision Science, Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine and Center for Drug Use and HIV Research at the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing, 2 Social Intervention Group, Columbia University; 3 Division of General Internal Medicine and Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; 4 Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; 5 Division of Infectious Disease, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine; 6 Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina; 7 Department of Epidemiology, University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions.

Acknowledgements This study was fundedbyNIHNIDAR01DA028766 611 (PI: Khan), University of North Carolina Center for AIDS Research [AI050 612 410] and NIH 1K24HD059358 (Dr. Adimora); Dr. Golin's salary was partially supported by K24 HD06920

Conflict of interest All authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

About CDUHR

The mission of the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) is to end the HIV and HCV epidemics in drug using populations and their communities by conducting transdisciplinary research and disseminating its findings to inform programmatic, policy, and grass roots initiatives at the local, state, national and global levels. CDUHR is a Core Center of Excellence funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant #P30 DA011041). It is the first center for the socio-behavioral study of substance use and HIV in the United States and is located at the New York University College of Nursing. For more information, visit http://www.cduhr.org.

NYU Langone Medical Center, a world-class, patient-centered, integrated academic medical center, is one of the nation's premier centers for excellence in clinical care, biomedical research, and medical education. Located in the heart of Manhattan, NYU Langone is composed of five hospitals--Tisch Hospital, its flagship acute care facility; Rusk Rehabilitation; the Hospital for Joint Diseases, the Medical Center's dedicated inpatient orthopaedic hospital; NYU Lutheran Medical Center, a full-service, 450-bed teaching hospital located in Brooklyn, and Hassenfeld Children's Hospital, a comprehensive pediatric hospital supporting a full array of children's health services across the Medical Center. Also part of NYU Langone is NYU School of Medicine, which since 1841 has trained thousands of physicians and scientists who have helped to shape the course of medical history, and the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. The Medical Center's trifold mission to serve, teach, and discover is achieved 365 days a year through the seamless integration of a culture devoted to excellence in patient care, education, and research. For more information, go to http://www.NYULangone.org,

About the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing

NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing is a global leader in nursing education, research, and practice. It offers a Bachelor of Science with a major in Nursing, a Master of Science and Post-Master's Certificate Programs, a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and a Doctor of Philosophy in nursing research and theory development.

New York University

Related Relationships Articles:

Disruptions of salesperson-customer relationships. Is that always bad?
Implications from sales relationship disruptions are intricate and can be revitalizing.
Do open relationships really work?
Open relationships typically describe couples in which the partners have agreed on sexual activity with someone other than their primary romantic partner, while maintaining the couple bond.
The 7 types of sugar daddy relationships
University of Colorado Denver researcher looks inside 48 sugar daddy relationships to better understand the different types of dynamics, break down the typical stereotype(s) and better understand how these relationships work in the United States.
Positive relationships boost self-esteem, and vice versa
Does having close friends boost your self-esteem, or does having high self-esteem influence the quality of your friendships?
Strong family relationships may help with asthma outcomes for children
Positive family relationships might help youth to maintain good asthma management behaviors even in the face of difficult neighborhood conditions, according to a new Northwestern University study.
In romantic relationships, people do indeed have a 'type'
Researchers at the University of Toronto show that people do indeed have a 'type' when it comes to dating, and that despite best intentions to date outside that type -- for example, after a bad relationship -- some will gravitate to similar partners.
Advancing dementia and its effect on care home relationships
New research published today in the journal Dementia by researchers from the University of Chichester focuses on the effects of behavioral change due to dementia in a residential care home setting.
Passion trumps love for sex in relationships
When women distinguish between sex and the relational and emotional aspects of a relationship, this determines how often couples in long-term relationships have sex.
The interplay between relationships, stress, and sleep
A new Personal Relationships study documents how the quality of a person's romantic relationship and the life stress he or she experiences at two key points in early adulthood (at age 23 and 32) are related to sleep quality and quantity in middle adulthood (at age 37).
From asexuality to heteroflexibility: New openness about intimate relationships
The 21st century has ushered in a ''quiet revolution'' in the diversity of intimate relationships, and a leading scholar says the scale and pace of this social transformation warrants a ''reboot'' of relationship studies.
More Relationships News and Relationships Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#540 Specialize? Or Generalize?
Ever been called a "jack of all trades, master of none"? The world loves to elevate specialists, people who drill deep into a single topic. Those people are great. But there's a place for generalists too, argues David Epstein. Jacks of all trades are often more successful than specialists. And he's got science to back it up. We talk with Epstein about his latest book, "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.