Jail linkage interventions help address continuity of care issues as inmates are released from jail into the community. As the EnhanceLink study found, many releasees have undiagnosed mental illness, are unaware of their HIV serostatus or out of care at time of incarceration, and suffer from a plethora of health disparities. Community-based providers working with vulnerable populations at risk for or infected with HIV should look into the feasibility of replicating this work within their organization and local jail(s).
Jail interventions cannot be successfully developed independently—partnerships with jail administrators are essential. The is a CDC recommendation, and HRSA has been underscoring the importance of linkage to care efforts in reducing and addressing health disparities as called for in the NHAS and the Affordable Care Act. While every grantee site in the EnhanceLink study had to adapt to their State requirements and the jail setting with which they were working, important lessons from this initiative can be used to inform others considering this work. Found to be cost effective17 with medical linkage rates six times the national average,23 the EnhanceLink study—and its findings—have important public health implications.