Project START+

Project START+ (PS+) is a linkage and risk reduction intervention for persons with HIV who are returning to the community after incarceration. PS+ aims to reduce HIV, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and hepatitis risk behaviors in the clients’ lives after incarceration and helps them identify and address other issues and challenges they may face.

About Project START+

Project START+ (PS+) is an individual-level, multi-session intervention for persons with HIV who are being released from a correctional facility and returning to the community. It focuses on increasing clients’ awareness of their HIV, STD, and hepatitis risk behaviors after release and providing them with tools and resources to reduce their risk. Participants begin the program up to two months before their release from prison or jail and continue the program in the community for three months after release.

Intervention Goals

  • To reduce HIV, STDs, and hepatitis risk behaviors in the client’s life after incarceration.
  • To help clients identify and address other issues and challenges they may face when released from a correctional setting into the community. These issues may include housing, employment, or living with substance use and mental health concerns (including HIV status).

Intervention Core Elements

  • Schedule and facilitate program sessions with persons with HIV who are preparing for release from a correctional facility. Use a client-focused, harm reduction, and strengths-based approach that helps participants develop step-by-step solutions to strengthen their abilities to link into medical care after release.
  • Use assessment and documentation tools to provide a structured program that includes HIV/STD/hepatitis education and linkage to care, behavioral risk and reentry needs assessments, goal setting, strengthening motivation, decision making, and facilitated referrals.
  • Staff the program with persons who are familiar with HIV, STD, and hepatitis treatment, care, and prevention activities, and the specific needs of persons being released from correctional facilities.
  • Staff-participant relationships and rapport developed during pre-release sessions must be maintained during post-release sessions to promote participant trust and willingness to continue with the program. Ideally, the same staff member should conduct both pre-release and post-release sessions with participants.
  • Conduct enrollment and schedule two pre-release program sessions within 60 days of a participant’s release.
  • Schedule four post-release sessions. Hold the first as soon as possible, ideally within 48 hours of release and at the participant’s community medical providers’ location. The next three sessions should be spaced out over three months after release. Provide condoms at each post-release session.
  • Actively maintain contact with participants, using individual-based outreach and program flexibility, to determine the best time and place to meet with them and updating participant’s contact information, as needed.

PS+ Training

There is no CDC-supported training currently available for PS+. Technical assistance for the implementation of PS+ is available.

To request technical assistance:

  1. CDC’s directly funded health department and CBO partners may request technical assistance by submitting a request in the CBA Tracking System.
  2. Organizations not directly funded by CDC may contact their local health department for assistance in submitting a request.

If you have questions or need additional assistance, please contact

  • Wolitski RJ and the Project START Writing Group, for the Project START Study Group. Relative efficacy of a multi-session sexual risk-reduction intervention for young men released from prisons in 4 states. Am J Public Health 2006;96(10):1854-1861.