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HIV in Prisons 1997

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:30 P.M. EST                       BJS
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1999                      202/307-0784 
revised 11/19/99

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   The rate of human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among state and federal
prisoners dropped from 2.2 percent in 1996 to 2.1 percent in 1997,
according to a new bulletin released today by the Justice
Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).  There were
23,548 HIV-infected inmates at the end of 1997, down from
23,881 in 1996.  In 1997, 22,518 state prisoners and 1,030 federal
prisoners were known to be HIV positive. 
     The number of deaths due to AIDS dropped from 907 in
1996 to 538 in 1997.  The rate of death due to AIDS dropped
sharply from 100 deaths per 100,000 state inmates in 1995 (the
highest rate recorded) to 48 deaths per 100,000 inmates in 1997. 
Between 1991 (the first year of data collection) and 1996 about one
in three state prisoner deaths were attributable to AIDS.  During
1997 it was about one in five.
     Of inmates known to be HIV positive, 6,184 had confirmed
AIDS, while 16,503 either showed symptoms of HIV infection or
were asymptomatic.  Between 1991 and 1997 the number of
inmates with confirmed AIDS increased by more than 4,500 -- an
increase of  over 24 percent per year.  At year end 1997 the rate of
confirmed AIDS in prison (55 per 10,000 inmates) was at least 5
times the rate in the U.S. general population (10 per 10,000 U.S.
residents age 13 or older).  
      These HIV-positive inmates were concentrated in a small
number of states.  New York state prisons, with 7,500 HIV-positive
inmates, and Florida state prisons, with 2,325, held more
than 40 percent of all HIV-infected inmates. 
     Nearly half of the state prisoners known to be HIV positive
were held in the Northeast, where 6.4 percent of the inmates were
HIV positive, followed by 2 percent in the South, 0.9 percent in the
Midwest and 0.8 percent in the West.  New York had the highest
percentage (10.8 percent), followed by Connecticut (5.1 percent),
Massachusetts (3.7 percent), Florida (3.6 percent) and Maryland
(3.5 percent).
     In most states, female inmates had higher HIV infection
rates than male inmates.  Overall, 2.2 percent of male inmates and
3.5 percent of female inmates were HIV positive.  In two states at
least 10 percent of the female inmates were infected -- New York
(20.7 percent) and Connecticut (13.1).
     The BJS report indicated a strong link between prior drug
use and HIV infection.  Based on personal interviews with state
prisoners, 2.7 percent of those who had used drugs in the month     
before their current offense  said they were HIV positive, as did 
4.6 percent of those who had used a needle to inject drugs and 7.7
percent of those who had shared a needle.
     The rate of HIV infection was higher among black (2.8
percent)  and Hispanic (2.5 percent) state prison inmates than white
inmates (1.4 percent).  State inmates age 35 to 44 had the highest
rates of infection (3.1 percent), while those age 24 or younger had
the lowest (0.5 percent). 
     The bulletin, "HIV in Prisons 1997" (NCJ-178284), was
written by BJS statistician Laura M. Maruschak.  Single copies
may be obtained from the BJS fax-on-demand system by dialing
301/519-5550, listening to the complete menu and  selecting
document number 174.  Or call the BJS clearinghouse number: 1-800-732-3277.
Fax orders for mail delivery to 410/792-4358.  The
BJS Internet site is:
     Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from
the Office of Justice Programs homepage at:
                    # # # 
After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354
revised 11/19/99 th
Date Published: November 3, 1999