Health Care

Prism Health North Texas receives statewide award

Written by Mindia Whittier

The organization was one of 5 entities recognized for efforts to help inmates and those who are on parole or probation.

Prism Health North Texas’ (PHNTX) Free World Bound program has been awarded the Reentry and Integration Division Award as part of the Texas Governor’s 2022 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Awards.

The award was presented by Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Patrick O’Daniel and TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier during an online ceremony.

The Free World Bound program, which works with ethnic minority individuals who are currently living with or are at risk for HIV and who are currently or previously incarcerated, includes HIV prevention services and linkage to medical care to help them succeed within society. In late 2021, the program was awarded two grants by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), allowing it to expand from 30 prisons to becoming available to any of the 61 prisons in the state of Texas. 

Daron Kirven, PHNTX Senior Director of Community Outreach, and Nadia Mitchell, Program Manager, accepted the award in Austin. Kirven was essential to the establishment of the Free World Bound program in 2001, and has been integral to its development and expansion since then. 

“In the 21 years we have been working with incarcerated Texans through Free World Bound, we have been proud to provide support and solutions that lead to success upon reentry to society,” said Kirven.

In addition to linking the incarcerated individuals to medical care and providing HIV and STI testing, Free World Bound provides assistance with referrals to essential services, linkage to social services, procurement of HIV medication or PrEP, housing and transportation, behavioral health services, emergency financial assistance, and with HIV, STI, and substance misuse prevention education.

The program works to further Prism Health North Texas’ mission to advance the health of North Texas through education, research, prevention, and personalized integrated HIV care. When being released from incarceration, healthcare can fall in priorities when compared to housing, food, transportation, and employment. The Free World Bound program works to maintain access to healthcare, HIV care, and PrEP in order to set a solid foundation for success in other areas of life upon reentering the free world. 

Prism Health North Texas opened services in 1986 during the HIV/AIDS crisis in North Texas, through an initial grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It formed as AIDS Arms Network out of the Communities Foundation of Texas. PHNTX evolved to be a nationally recognized leader in delivering high-quality HIV and sexual health services, most recently expanding services to address the alarming rise in sexually transmitted infections in Dallas County and North Texas. Roughly 30% of people living with HIV in North Texas receive medical care and support at one of the four health centers.

About the author

Mindia Whittier