Voluntary rapid human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing in jails

Sex Transm Dis. 2009 Feb;36(2 Suppl):S9-13. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e318148b6b1.


Objectives: To provide human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) rapid testing to persons in jails, identify previously undiagnosed cases of HIV infection, and refer HIV-infected inmates to care, treatment, and prevention services.

Design: Four state health departments (Florida, Louisiana, New York, and Wisconsin) collaborated with jails to implement stand-alone voluntary rapid HIV testing programs. Inmates requested or were referred by medical staff for rapid HIV testing. HIV testing was provided by the health department, correctional facility, or a community-based organization. Inmates whose rapid test was reactive were offered confirmatory testing, medical evaluation, prevention services, and discharge planning.

Results: From December 2003 through May 2006, rapid HIV testing was provided to 33,211 inmates, more than 99.9% of whom received their test results. Most of the inmates tested were male (79%), black (58%), and less than 35 years of age (60%). A total of 440 (1.3%) rapid HIV tests were reactive, and 409 (1.2%) of the results were confirmed positive. The testing programs identified 269 (0.8%) previously undiagnosed cases of HIV infection. In the multivariate analyses, new HIV diagnoses were associated with race/ethnicity, report of risky behaviors, and with no report of HIV risk behavior. Almost 40% of diagnoses were for inmates whose only reported risk was heterosexual contact.

Conclusions: Rapid HIV testing in jails identified a considerable number of previously undiagnosed cases of HIV infection. Rapid HIV testing should be available to all inmates, regardless of whether inmates reported HIV risky behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Serodiagnosis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Government Programs*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV-1
  • Humans
  • Louisiana
  • Male
  • New York
  • Prisoners
  • Prisons*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Time Factors
  • Wisconsin
  • Young Adult