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Study confirms benefit of routine, jail-based HIV testing for inmates
Date:6/24/2010

PROVIDENCE, RI Routine, jail-based HIV testing of inmates can successfully identify a substantial proportion of people unknowingly infected with HIV and could play a critical role in preventing the spread of the disease, according to a new report in this week's U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The analysis, conducted by researchers with The Miriam Hospital, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC), Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the CDC, supports previous CDC recommendations calling for HIV testing in jails and prisons as part of a routine medical evaluation.

During a eight-year period, 73 percent of all RIDOC inmates were provided HIV testing during a medical evaluation within 24 hours of incarceration. Nearly 170 new HIV diagnoses, representing more than 15 percent of all newly-diagnosed people with HIV in Rhode Island during the same time period, were identified through this RIDOC testing program.

According to lead author Curt G. Beckwith, MD, an infectious disease specialist with The Miriam Hospital, this testing rate is both noteworthy and encouraging, given that individuals who are unaware of their HIV infection are more than three times more likely to transmit the virus compared to those who are aware of their infection. In addition, HIV rates among prisoners are more than four times higher than in the general population.

"Jails and correctional facilities provide a golden opportunity to offer HIV testing to a population that is hard-to-reach and at increased risk of infection," says Beckwith. "Expansion of HIV testing within jails has the potential to increase HIV diagnoses and make more people aware of their HIV status, which could help reduce the spread of the disease in the United States."

HIV testing has been routinely offered to every person entering the RIDOC since
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Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
401-793-7484
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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