Friends Research Institute (FRI) was one of ten grantees awarded a five-year Seek, Test, and Treat: Addressing HIV in the Criminal Justice System grant funded through the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This grant will be conducted in two sites. The Baltimore Maryland site will be led by Principal Investigator Dr. Michael S. Gordon and Co-Investigators, Dr. Timothy W. Kinlock (of FRI) and Dr. Elizabeth Disney of Chase Brexton. The Providence, Rhode Island site will be led by Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Josiah Rich and Co-Investigator Ms. Michele McKenzie at The Miriam Hospital-Lifespan. Dr. Gordon’s research is focused on drug abuse treatment for criminal justice populations, including developing, implementing, and evaluating innovative drug abuse treatment interventions for prisoners with heroin addiction histories.
The study investigators will be conducting both a randomized trial of HIV testing in community corrections, and a randomized trial of linkage to HIV care for people with HIV recruited through community corrections (probation and parole). The first study is a two-group randomized controlled trial in which 6,000 male and female probationers and parolees in Baltimore City, Maryland and Providence, Rhode Island will be randomly assigned to one of two treatment conditions: 1) On-site rapid testing conducted by research staff co-located for the purposes of this study at the probation/parole office; or 2) Off-site referral for rapid HIV testing at a community health center or HIV testing clinic. The second study is a randomized trial, whereby all individuals identified at community corrections with HIV will be offered enrollment in a one-year intervention study to examine the ability to improve linkage into HIV care. Participants will be randomized to receive one of two conditions: 1) Project Bridge (PB) for one year, or 2) Treatment as Usual-referral to standard level of care (TAU). Moreover, those randomized to TAU will be given an opportunity to “crossover” to PB if they have failed to engage in treatment during the first three months. The rationale for choosing the two cities of Baltimore, MD and Providence, RI is due to the historically high rates of heroin addiction that is associated with multiple HIV-related risk behaviors in these two cities and a high likelihood of being on probation and/or parole.