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Maryland Prisons Have Highest Percentage Of AIDS Cases Nationwide

Armen Hareyan's picture

Prisons in Maryland have the highest percentage of inmates living with AIDS nationwide, according to a study by the Department of Justice, the Baltimore Sun reports. The study is based on statistics from 41 states at the end of 2005.

Thestudy found that AIDS cases among inmates in Maryland prisons increasedfrom 204 in 2004 to 408 in 2005 and that 1.8% of inmates in Marylandare living with AIDS. Although the number of inmates living with AIDSincreased, the study found a decrease in the number of HIV-positiveinmates from 988 in 2003 to 792 in 2004 and 671 in 2005 (Garland,Baltimore Sun, 9/29). The number of HIV-positive inmatesnationwide and the number of AIDS cases decreased in 2005, the reportfound (Lamothe, Annapolis Capital, 9/29).

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Mark Vernarelli, a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services,said that prison officials "have not had a chance to examine thereport" and that state officials could not explain the increase in AIDScases during the one-year period. Vernarelli added that the prisonsystem in August spent $850,000 on HIV/AIDS-related medications forinmates.

According to Vernarelli, many of the HIV-positive inmates contracted the virus through injection drug use (Baltimore Sun,9/29). Richard Rosenblatt, assistant secretary for DPSCS, said a "highrate of HIV should be expected" in Maryland prisons because of the highnumber of injection drug users in the Baltimore area. According to CDC, the Baltimore area in 2005 had the second-highest rate of AIDS nationwide, with 40.4 cases per 100,000 people (Annapolis Capital, 9/29).

Connecticut,Delaware and New York state had the second-highest percentage ofinmates living with AIDS, with 1.1% each, the report found (Baltimore Sun, 9/29).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.