Implementing a Routine, Voluntary HIV Testing Program in a Massachusetts County Prison
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- Liddicoat, R.V., Zheng, H., Internicola, J. et al. J Urban Health (2006) 83: 1127. doi:10.1007/s11524-006-9095-9
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Although U.S. prison inmates have higher rates of HIV infection than the general population, most inmates are not routinely tested for HIV infection at prison entry. The study objective was to implement a routine, voluntary HIV testing program in a Massachusetts county prison. During admission, inmates were given group HIV pre-test counseling and were subsequently offered private HIV testing. This intervention was compared to a control period during which HIV testing was provided only upon inmate or physician request. Between November 2004 and April 2005, 1,004 inmates met inclusion criteria and were offered routine, voluntary HIV testing. Of these, 734 (73.1%) accepted, 2 (0.3%) were HIV-infected, and 457 (45.5%) had been tested for HIV in the previous year. The testing rate of 73.1% was significantly increased from the rate of 18.0% (318 of 1,723) during the control period (p<0.001). Among the inmates tested for HIV in the prior year, 78.2% had received their last HIV test in the prison setting. Careful attention should be paid to prevent redundancy of testing efforts in the prison population. Implementing a routine HIV testing program among prison inmates greatly increased testing rates compared to on-request testing.