The prevalence of individuals with or at risk for HIV infection in prisons and jails is severalfold higher than age-adjusted rates in surrounding communities. This HIV serosurvey of 975 newly sentenced male prisoners employed a new methodology that anonymously linked individual information to HIV serologic data. The HIV prevalence was 6.1%; multivariate regression analysis indicated injection drug use (OR = 18.9), black race (OR = 5.5), Hispanic ethnicity (OR = 3.4), psychiatric illness (OR = 3.1) and a history of having had a sexually transmitted disease (OR = 2.2) were independent predictors of HIV infection. Laboratory markers such as hypoalbuminemia, an elevated aspartate aminotransferase (AST) level, leukopenia, anemia, and thrombocytopenia suggest increased risk for HIV among prisoners, particularly in settings where HIV testing resources are scarce. This study, unlike those reported in other geographic regions, indicated that the majority (71%) of HIV-seropositive persons self-reported their HIV status. This finding may suggest that HIV-infected individuals will self-report their status if HIV care is comprehensive and consistent. The large number of HIV-infected individuals within prisons makes prisons important sites for the introduction of comprehensive HIV-related care. This is particularly relevant in that development of new guidelines issued for the management of HIV infection in which potent combination antiretroviral therapy has been demonstrated to decrease morbidity and mortality. The high prevalence of HIV-seronegative inmates with selfreported high-risk behaviors also suggests the importance of prisons as sites for the introduction of appropriate risk-reduction interventions.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Frederick L. Altice, Yale University AIDS Program, 135 College Street, Suite 323, New Haven, CT 06510-2283, U.S.A.; email: Frederick.Altice@Yale.Edu.
Manuscript received September 4, 1997; accepted February 4, 1998.
© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.