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Study: Felons banned from food stamps at higher risk of HIV

<p>Amanda Cuda</p>


April 6, 2013

Convicted felons who are banned from getting food stamps and other public food assistance are more likely to engage in behavior that puts them at risk for HIV, a new study says.

The study, recently published in the journal AIDS Education and Prevention, looked at 110 people released from prison in Texas, California and Connecticut, and examined whether they had a hard time getting access to food.

The study focused largely on a 1996 law that bans those convicted of drug felonies from getting food assistance via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

"Connecticut is considered one of the most lenient states and a model state, and people there are still reporting that they're not getting enough food," Dr. Emily Wang, one of the authors of the study, said.

An assistant professor of internal medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine, Wang said she realized there might be a link between lack of access to food and high-risk behavior when she was working at a clinic in California. One of her patients there, who had been denied public food assistance, said she had no choice but to return to prostitution to feed her family, Wang recalled.

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