CAPS and Centerforce, a community-based organization that has been providing services to prisoners and their families for thirty years, have been collaborating since 1993 to design and evaluate HIV prevention interventions for incarcerated men and their female partners. Our previous work with male prisoners includes the evaluation of a peer-led HIV education orientation for arriving prisoners; development and evaluation of a prerelease intervention for men leaving prison; development and evaluation of a health promotion intervention for HIV+ prisoners preparing for release;3 and a multi-site study to conduct formative research and develop and test an HIV, STD and hepatitis intervention for young men preparing for release from prison.
Early in the course of these studies, men expressed a need for HIV prevention interventions specifically tailored for the needs of the women with whom they were in romantic and sexual relationships. In response, we conducted formative research with women visiting men imprisoned in a California state prison and we piloted a single session intervention designed for this population that was taught by a peer educator.
Our formative work with women visiting incarcerated men indicated that it was feasible to engage women in intervention and research evaluation activities. However, a single-session intervention did not have a measurable effect on the HIV risk behavior of study participants. We decided to develop a multi-component intervention targeting the specific needs of women with incarcerated male partners. We designed and evaluated Health Options Mean Empowerment (HOME), an intervention to reduce HIV risk among women whose male partner was being released from state prison.