The San Francisco–based Transitions Clinic is the first health care facility specifically helping former prisoners, The New York Times reports. According to a 2009 report from the RAND Corporation, HIV rates in prison populations are nine times higher than in the general population because of intravenous drug use, unprotected sex and tattoos made with unsterilized needles.

According to the article, the Transitions Clinic reaches out to patients before they are released and works with them during their parole. Once released, many ex-prisoners don’t know where to turn for medical treatment, are unaware of how to navigate the health care system and face caregivers who aren’t sensitive to their specific needs.

“A lot of these other clinics don’t know how to deal with ex-cons, how to talk to them, how to approach them,” said Ronald Sanders, community health worker at Transitions Clinic and a former prisoner.

The clinic’s medical director, Shira Shavit, MD, manages common post-prison chronic diseases and provides specialists’ referrals for former prisoners with advanced illnesses. Additionally the clinic offers connections to mental health and substance abuse counseling as well as housing and employment programs.