Incarceration is a significant public health issue that disproportionately impacts trans women, and the cycle of incarceration interacts with high levels of substance use, mental illness, and HIV to produce an elevated burden of disease among this population. The purpose of this study is to develop and pilot test the first culturally relevant, theory-driven intervention to improve post-incarceration health care engagement among trans women.
Girlfriends Connect is a linkage to overall healthcare and risk reduction program for trans women who are returning to the community after incarceration. The program provides six sessions with each client and works with them one-on-one to serve as a "bridge" to their return to the community. The program begins up to 2 months before clients are released from custody and continues with clients for 3 months in the community after release.Girlfriends Connect offers six one-on-one sessions. Two of these sessions are completed before release and four are completed after release. The sessions focus on:
- Post release linkage to overall healthcare (primary medical care, HIV related care, mental health, and transition related care services);
- Transitional needs (housing, employment, income, etc.); and
- Individualized risk behaviors (HIV/STI testing, PrEP referrals, safer sex supply distribution, substance use treatment, etc.).
- The client and staff will then work together to prioritize needs, developing a reentry plan that is incorporated into the linkage to care and risk reduction plan.
- The final four sessions are conducted with the client after release. In these sessions, staff work with the client to reassess needs and goals, update the linkage to care and reentry/risk reduction plans, distribute condoms, and provide facilitated referrals for social service and other treatment needs as well as for a longer-term system of care and support.