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HIV Transmission Not Uncommon in U.S. Prison Inmates

Report urges strategies to reduce HIV infection in prisons and in the community

FRIDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Although most HIV-positive male prison inmates are infected prior to incarceration, a significant number of them may become infected while serving their sentences, according to a study of Georgia prison inmates published in the April 21 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Between 1988 and 2005, testing records confirmed that 88 inmates contracted HIV in Georgia correctional facilities. In October 2005, Georgia housed 856 HIV-positive inmates, of whom 780 (91 percent) were infected before incarceration. These findings prompted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevision and the Georgia Department of Corrections and Division of Public Health to conduct the first detailed analysis of HIV risk factors in U.S. prisons.

The researchers found that HIV seroconversion in prison was associated with male-male sex, tattooing, an age greater than 26 years at the date of interview, having served more than five years of the current sentence, black race and having a body mass index of less than 25.4 kg/m2 on entry into prison.

"Although this investigation was conducted in a single state prison system, incarcerated populations in other correctional settings are at risk for HIV infection, both while in prison and after release into the community," the authors conclude. "Corrections officials, in partnership with public health officials, should assess the adequacy of existing programs and services for incarcerated populations and develop strategies to reduce HIV infection, both in prisons and in the community."

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