Effects of incarceration on HIV-infected individuals

Moya M. Griffin, John G. Ryan, Victoria S. Briscoe, Kathleen M. Shadle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a critical problem among the incarcerated population, with rates as high as 17% being reported for prison systems in New York. The literature suggests that stressful living conditions and inherent defects in the immune system associated with HIV infection make prison populations more susceptible to a disproportionate decrease in their CD4 counts. To determine the effects of incarceration on HIV-infected individuals, the charts of 800 inmates were reviewed. Baseline (draw 1), 2- to 5-month (draw 2), and 6- to 12-month (draw 3) CD4 cell counts were obtained. Mean cell counts were calculated, and paired t-tests were used to identify differences. The group receiving antiretrovirals throughout showed no difference in mean CD4 cell count between draws 1 and 2 or between draws 1 and 3. The group not receiving HIV medications did not show a significant difference in CD4 cell counts between draws 1 and 2, but did show a significant difference between draws 1 and 3. For this group, the rate of decline in CD4 cells was greater than among an outpatient setting. The subsample of subjects initiating therapy prior to the second blood draw showed a significant increase in mean CD4 cell counts at draw 1 versus draw 2, but did not show a significant change when comparing draw 1 to draw 3. When examining subjects based on their antiviral status, the mean CD4 cell count at each of the draws was statistically associated with subjects' antiviral status. We conclude that incarceration causes a more rapid decrease in CD4 cells compared with an outpatient population, causing clinical significance on the normal course of HIV disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-644
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1996


  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Incarceration
  • Pharmaceutical intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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