Although sex in prison is forbidden, the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, is prevalent. However, a recent report from the US Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) states that the number of HIV/AIDS-related deaths inside prisons has decreased within the past decade. According to the report, the rate of AIDS-related deaths among all state and federal prisoners dropped by an average of approximately 16 percent each year between 2001 and 2010.
New York, California, Florida, and Texas house more than half of all state inmates with HIV/AIDS, and New York prisons hold the highest rate of inmates with HIV/AIDS, with about 6 percent, followed by inmates in Louisiana, Maryland, and Florida.
The report attributes the decline of HIV/AIDS-related deaths in prison, at least in part, to a decrease in the number of African-American inmates over the age of 35. For example, the number of HIV/AIDS-related deaths among all state prisoners dropped from 89 in 2009 to 69 in 2010.
Many counselors argue that while the latest BJS report is encouraging, more could be done to eliminate the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other sexually transmitted diseases in prison. For example, prisons are forbidden from distributing condoms to inmates. Manhattan HIV CARE Network Program Director Jose Martin Garcia Orduna said that professionals often fail to give HIV-positive inmates the adequate health care and support systems necessary to remain well in prison and to successfully re-enter society.
To view the complete report “HIV in Prison 2001–2010,” visit the Bureau of Justice Statistics at www.bjs.gov.
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