Nadine Kronfli and her team will systematically screen for sexually transmitted and blood borne infections, aiming to standardize care for incarcerated persons

Dr. Nadine Kronfli is a clinician scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre.

Dr. Nadine Kronfli, a clinician scientist at the Centre for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), received funding of $618,000 over 1 year through the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund. This investment will allow to screen and treat Quebec’s incarcerated provincial prison population for sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBI)

PHAC HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund supports projects that increase awareness of HIV, hepatitis C and other STBBI among key populations, linking people to prevention, testing, treatment and care to improve health outcomes.

“STBBI are preventable, treatable, and in many cases, curable, however they continue to be a significant public health concern,” says Steven Sternthal, Director General for the Centre for Communicable Diseases and Infection Control at the Public Health Agency of Canada. “Together, we can improve access to testing, treatment, care and support equitable services for underserved populations.”

“Our project will be the first of its kind,” says Dr. Kronfli. “We will be screening for all STBBI, aiming to provide people who are incarcerated with equivalent care as in the community. We will also update STBBI prevalence data and related risk factors in Quebec prisons.”

Dr. Kronfli points to a report by the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases released in 2021, which states that there is a lack of comprehensive and effective strategies to address the spread of STBBI in Canadian prisons. The report highlights the need for improved testing and treatment protocols, access to harm reduction services, and increased education.

“There are substantial missed opportunities for engagement in care for people incarcerated in Quebec’s provincial prisons because screening strategies for STBBI on admission are not systematic,” says Dr. Kronfli.

Dr. Kronfli’s work will screen approximately 1,200 incarcerated individuals across seven Quebec provincial prisons. The project team will determine the prevalence of six STBBI: HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. All those who test positive will be linked to care for treatment.

“Today, screening for STBBI in Quebec provincial prisons is not routinely performed,” adds Dr. Kronfli. “We hope to drive changes in provincial policy, whereby systematic screening for all STBBI on admission to all Quebec provincial prisons becomes standard of care.”

Congratulations to Dr. Kronfli!