Study says few prisoners contract HIV

April 21, 2006

A study refutes the widely held perception that blames U.S. prisons for the spread of the AIDS epidemic, saying very few prisoners acquire the virus.

The study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also rejected the notion that incarceration contributes directly to the high rate of HIV among black men, reports The Washington Post.

The lengthy study, based on 17 years of research, used data from Georgia's prison system, the nation's fifth-largest with about 45,000 inmates.

The study said 90 percent of HIV-positive men in the prison system were infected before they arrived. Over the 17-year study, only 88 men became infected in prison by the virus chiefly through same-sex intercourse.

Surprisingly, the study said, of those who got infected behind bars and acknowledged having gay sex there, half reported their partners were prison staff members, not other inmates, the Post reported. It was not known whether the guards were the source infection or became infected themselves.

The study also said about three-quarters of inmates who reported having had sex with other men described it as consensual.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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