Drug dependency and HIV testing among state prisoners

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Abstract

HIV and drug use are higher among prisoners than the general US population. This study examines drug dependency/use and differences between prisoners who volunteered for HIV testing and those who did not in a less densely populated state. It was hypothesized that prisoners who volunteered for an HIV test were engaged in more drug use and other risky behaviors than those who did not. Survey data were collected from 600 randomly selected inmates (567 males and 33 females) from 15 state prisons. Subjects were male (95%), white (63%), never married (43%), and 44% volunteered for an HIV test since entering prison. Ninety-two percent of inmates met DSM criteria for drug dependence in their lifetime. Those who volunteered for HIV testing were 2.6 times more likely to ever have used PCP; 1.5 times more likely to ever have used cocaine; 1.4 times more likely to ever have had a problem with drugs; 1.3 times more likely to have used opiates, and 1.6 times more likely to report having been sexually or physically abused. Implications for interventions are discussed.

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