Incarcerated Black Women in the Southern USA: A Narrative Review of STI and HIV Risk and Implications for Future Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy

  • Nicole Pelligrino
  • Barbara H. Zaitzow
  • Melinda Sothern
  • Richard Scribner
  • Stephen Phillippi


Incarcerated black women in the southern USA are understudied despite the high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). These incarceration and health disparities are rooted in centuries of historically inequitable treatment. Amidst the current dialogue on mass incarceration in the south and its relationship to the health of the black community, individual and environmental risk factors for STI/HIV transmission are seldom paired with discussions of evidence-based solutions. A narrative review of the literature from January 1995 to May 2015 was conducted. This sample of the literature (n = 18) revealed that partner concurrency, inconsistent condom use, sex work, previous STI, and drug abuse augmented individual STI/HIV risk. Recommended interventions include those which promote healthier relationships, cultural competence, and gender specificity, as well as those that enhance prevention skills. Policy recommendations include improving cultural sensitivity, cultural competence, and cultural humility training for clinicians, as well as substantially increasing funding for prevention, treatment, and rehabilitative services. These recommendations are timely given the recent national attention to incarceration, STI, and HIV disparities, particularly in the southern USA.


Incarcerated Black Female Southern United States HIV 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was funded by the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Public Health, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Jim Finks Endowed Chair in Health Promotion, and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) P20 MD00481701.

Conflict of Interest

Nicole Pelligrino declares that she has no conflict of interest. Barbara H. Zaitzow declares that she has no conflict of interest. Melinda Sothern declares that she has no conflict of interest. Richard Scribner declares that he has no conflict of interest. Stephen Phillippi declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behavioral and Community Health SciencesLouisiana State University Health Sciences Center—New Orleans, School of Public HealthNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.Department of Government and Justice StudiesAppalachian State UniversityBooneUSA
  3. 3.Department of EpidemiologyLouisiana State University Health Sciences Center—New Orleans, School of Public HealthNew OrleansUSA

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