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J Natl Med Assoc. 2001 Dec;93(12):481-6.

HIV/AIDS behind bars: an avenue for culturally sensitive interventions.

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Texas Southern University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Houston, The HIV Prevention Center, Texas Southern University, 77004, USA.


The prevalence of HIV infection and the incidence of AIDS are higher among prison inmates compared to the general population. Although African Americans and Hispanics constitute approximately 13% and 12.5% of the population, respectively, they are over-represented among the prison population. The current trend in the adult/adolescent AIDS cases among African Americans and Hispanics outpaces that of the white population. The sociodemographic data of HIV/AIDS looks similar to the sociodemographics of U.S. prisons. This suggests that there may be a link between HIV transmission in prison and the current AIDS epidemic in the community. In addition, this high incidence is also a reflection of the high-risk lifestyle of the incarcerated population. High-risk behavior common among the incarcerated and inner city minority communities includes injection drug use, sharing of drugs and drug paraphernalia, and multiple sex partners. HIV transmission risk-reduction efforts such as mandatory screening of inmates, preventive HIV/AIDS education, and appropriate and adequate therapeutic management are essential to curtail the epidemic. However, any HIV/AIDS reduction program for minority communities must include culturally sensitive interventions.

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