Maryland Prisons Have Highest Percentage of AIDS Cases Nationwide, DOJ Report Says
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.
The study found that AIDS cases among inmates in Maryland prisons increased from 204 in 2004 to 408 in 2005 and that 1.8% of inmates in Maryland are living with AIDS. Although the number of inmates living with AIDS increased, the study found a decrease in the number of HIV-positive inmates from 988 in 2003 to 792 in 2004 and 671 in 2005 (Garland, Baltimore Sun, 9/29). The number of HIV-positive inmates nationwide and the number of AIDS cases decreased in 2005, the report found (Lamothe, Annapolis Capital, 9/29).
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 the report" and that state officials could not explain the increase in AIDS cases during the one-year period. Vernarelli added that the prison system in August spent $850,000 on HIV/AIDS-related medications for inmates.
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 "high rate of HIV should be expected" in Maryland prisons because of the high number 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 of inmates living with AIDS, with 1.1% each, the report found (Baltimore Sun, 9/29).
The report is available online.