Number of New HIV Infections Dropping In US Prisons

A new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reveal HIV cases are dropping in US state and federal prisons.

The number of both state and federal prisoners with HIV at the end of 2015 was the lowest since 1991.

The BJS began collecting HIV data on prisoners in 1991. They reported then 17,680 cases. The rate of HIV peaked in 1998 with 25,980 cases.

By the end of 2015, a reported 17,150 prisoners had HIV.

Broken down between state and federal prisoners, the numbers reveal a more nuanced story. Where state prisons saw a decrease of HIV cases by 9,300 prisoners from 1998 to 2015, federal ones increased. Over the course of 17 years, there was an increase of 470 cases.

Deaths from AIDS-related complications is also down in state prisons from 73 in 2010 to a preliminary 45 in 2015. In federal prisons, deaths have been less than 10 between 2010 and 2015.

However, it is important to note the difference in overall numbers. In 2015, state prisons had 15,610 cases while federal prisons had 1,536 cases.

Between men and women, cases dropped 14% and 31% between each respectively from 2010 to 2015 among all prisoners.

The importance of testing

In 2015, 15 states reported testing all incoming prisoners, regardless of consent, while 17 states offered the test but it was not mandatory. Two-thirds of all prisoners were from these states.

Upon release, most prisons offer tests upon request.

Between testing and medication like PrEP, there is a goal to see a widespread decrease in HIV cases.


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