Early identification of HIV: empirical support for jail-based screening

PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37603. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037603. Epub 2012 May 25.


Background: Although routine HIV testing is recommended for jails, little empirical data exist describing newly diagnosed individuals in this setting.

Methods: Client-level data (CLD) are available on a subset of individuals served in EnhanceLink, for the nine of the 10 sites who enrolled newly diagnosed persons in the client level evaluation. In addition to information about time of diagnosis, we analyzed data on initial CD4 count, use of antiretroviral therapy (ART), and linkage to care post discharge. Baseline data from newly diagnosed persons were compared to data from persons whose diagnoses predated jail admission.

Results: CLD were available for 58 newly diagnosed and 708 previously diagnosed individuals enrolled between 9/08 and 3/11. Those newly diagnosed had a significantly younger median age (34 years) when compared to those previously diagnosed (41 years). In the 30 days prior to incarceration, 11% of those newly diagnosed reported injection drug use and 29% reported unprotected anal intercourse. Median CD4 count at diagnosis was 432 cells/mL (range: 22-1,453 cells/mL). A minority (21%, N = 12) of new diagnoses started antiretroviral treatment (ART) before release; 74% have evidence of linkage to community services.

Conclusion: Preliminary results from a cross-sectional analysis of this cohort suggest testing in jails finds individuals early on in disease progression. Most HIV(+) detainees did not start ART in jail; therefore screening may not increase pharmacy costs for jails. Detainees newly diagnosed with HIV in jails can be effectively linked to community resources. Jail-based HIV testing should be a cornerstone of "test and treat" strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Prisons*
  • Young Adult