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HIV in Prisons and Jails, 1999

SUNDAY, July 8, 2001 202/307-0784


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Between 1995 and 1999 the percent of the nation's prison inmates known to be infected with the human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) has fluctuated between 2.3 percent and 2.1 percent, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. At the end of 1999 there were 25,757 HIV-infected inmates nationwide-24,607 state inmates and 1,150 federal prisoners among a total of 1,283,902 prisoners in custody.

The number of AIDS-related deaths has decreased sharply since reaching a peak of 1,010 in 1995:


Rate per 100,000
state inmates

1995 1,010 100
1996 907 90
1997 538 48
1998 350 30
1999 242 20

During 1999, the Northeast had the highest rate of HIV/AIDS cases among state prisoners (6.0 percent), followed by the South (2.2 percent), the Midwest (1.0 percent) and the West (0.9 percent).

HIV-infected prisoners were concentrated in a few states: New York (7,000), Florida (2,633), Texas (2,520) and California (1,570). Together these states held 56 percent of the infected state inmates. The highest HIV infection rates were in New York (9.7 percent), followed by the District of Columbia (7.8 percent) and Rhode Island (6.9 percent).

States with the lowest HIV/AIDS case rates included Oregon, South Dakota and North Dakota (all with 0.2 percent); West Virginia (0.3 percent); Idaho and Iowa (0.4 percent).

In state prisons 27 percent of the HIV-infected prisoners had confirmed AIDS. In federal prisons 37 percent of HIV-positive inmates had AIDS. The overall rate of confirmed AIDS cases in state and federal prisons (0.60 percent) was five times the rate in the general U.S. population (0.12 percent).

The rate of HIV infection in state prisons was higher among female inmates than among male inmates in all regions and in most states. Overall, 2.1 percent of male inmates and 3.4 percent of female inmates were known to be HIV positive.

Among federal prisoners, 431 of the 1,150 inmates known to be HIV positive had confirmed AIDS. During 1999, 16 federal inmates died from AIDS-related causes, representing 6 percent of all prisoners who died in a federal prison.

Between July 1, 1998, and June 30, 1999, 78 jail inmates died from AIDS-related causes (13 per 100,000 inmates) and 1 in 12 jail inmate deaths were AIDS-related. Florida jails reported the largest number of AIDS deaths: 15. Jails in New York and Georgia had 11.

On June 30, 1999, there were 8,615 local jail inmates known to be HIV positive, or 1.7 percent of all jail inmates. Jails are locally operated corrections facilities that confine people before or after adjudication. Jail inmates are normally sentenced to incarceration for one year or less. The HIV infection rate was highest among the largest jail jurisdictions. Almost half of all HIV-infected jail inmates were housed in 43 of the 50 largest jurisdictions. Four of the largest jurisdictions reported more than 5 percent of their inmate population HIV positive. Palm Beach County, Florida, had the highest rate of infection (10.6 percent), followed by New York City (7.1 percent), King County, Washington, (5.8 percent) and Essex County, New Jersey (5.2 percent).

The report, "HIV in Prisons and Jails, 1999" (NCJ-187456), was written by BJS statistician Laura M. Maruschak.

The BJS Internet site is:


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After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354

Date Published: July 8, 2001