HIV in U.S. Prisons (A BJS Report)

HIV in U.S. Prisons (A BJS Report)

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Bureau of Justice Statistics. (Fall 1993). "H.I.V. in U.S. Prisons (A BJS Report)." Alaska Justice Forum 10(3): 2-4. In 1991, 2.2 percent of federal and state prison inmates were reported to have the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS. This article presents statistics on prisoners infected with HIV in state and federal correction institutions at yearend 1991.

In 1991, 2.2 per cent of federal and state prison inmates were reported to have the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS (Table 1). In state prisons, 2.3 per cent of inmates were reported testing HIV-positive; in federal prisons, 1.0 per cent.
States reporting the highest percentage of prisoners infected with HIV were New York (13.8%), Connecticut (5.4%), Massachusetts (5.3%), New Jersey (4.0%), Rhode Island (3.5%) and Georgia (3.4%). Twenty-nine states reported less than 1.0 per cent. The percentage of inmates in prison on December 31, 1991, known to be HIV-positive, is related in part to the testing policies of the individual prisons or departments of corrections.
Of the inmates who tested HIV-positive, 73.0 per cent were asymptomatic and 17.3 per cent had symptoms but had not developed AIDS. The remaining 9.7 per cent had AIDS. The west had the highest percentage of HIV-positive inmates with confirmed AIDS (21.1%), compared to the northeast (8.8%), midwest (11.3%) and south (6.7%).

Table 1. Inmates In Custody of State or Federal Correctional Authorities Known to be Positive for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Yearend 1991

Prison Policies for Testing for HIV

All the states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons tested inmates for HIV on some basis. Seventeen jurisdictions tested all prisoners, either at admission, release, or during custody. The remaining 35 jurisdictions tested at least some inmates. Thirty-nine of the 52 jurisdictions tested when asked by an inmate and 40 when an inmate exhibited symptoms suggestive of HIV infection.

AIDS-related Deaths

Of the 1,863 deaths of prison inmates in 1991, 528-or 28 per cent-died of AIDS (Table 2). In New York and New Jersey two-thirds of the reported deaths were caused by AIDS. These two states also had the largest number of AIDS-related deaths, 210 in New York and 66 in New Jersey. Twenty-one states had no AIDS-related deaths.

Of inmates who died of AIDS in prison, three per cent were women. Eleven of the 15 women who died of AIDS were imprisoned in the northeast.

Table 2. AIDS-Related Deaths Reported for State Prisons, 1991

HIV Test Results, by Inmate Characteristics

For inmates reporting test results, a higher percentage of women than men tested HIV‑positive (3.3% to 2.1%; see Table 3). Hispanics were more likely than blacks and blacks were more likely than whites to have antibodies to HIV (3.7%, 2.6%, and 1.1%).

An estimated 6.8 per cent of Hispanic women were HIV-positive, as were 3.5 per cent of black women, 3.5 per cent of Hispanic men, and 2.5 per cent of black men. Among white inmates, 1.9 per cent of the women and one per cent of the men were positive.

Inmates 35 to 44 years of age were more likely than those in other age groups to be HIV positive; 3.7 per cent were positive. Inmates in prison for drug, property, and public-order offenses were more likely than violent offenders to be HIV-positive.

Recidivists were more likely to be HIV-positive than inmates who had not previously served a sentence to either probation or a term in a correctional facility.

Table 3. State Prison Inmates Ever Tested for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Results, by Selected Characteristics, 1991

This article was based on the Bureau of Justice Statistics report NCJ-143292, "HIV in U.S. Prisons & Jails." Copies of the entire report are available through the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Unit, Justice Center.