Prevalence and risk behaviours for HIV infection among inmates of a provincial prison in Quebec City

AIDS. 1996 Aug;10(9):1009-15. doi: 10.1097/00002030-199610090-00012.


Objective: To assess HIV prevalence and related risk factors among inmates at the Quebec Detention Centre (QDC).

Design: Cross-sectional prevalence study.

Methods: Inmates incarcerated at the QDC in September 1994 were asked to participate in an anonymous survey concerning HIV infection. Volunteers answered a questionnaire and provided a saliva sample during a meeting with an interviewer.

Results: The overall participation rate was 95% (618 out of 651). HIV prevalence was 2% (11 out of 499) in men. All HIV-infected men were injecting drug users (IDU) with an HIV prevalence of 9% (11 out of 129) in this group. HIV prevalence was 14% (9/63) among male IDU admitting previous needle-sharing and 3% (two out of 66) among the other IDU (odds ratio, 5.3; P = 0.028). Twelve male inmates admitted injecting drugs during imprisonment, of whom 11 shared needles and three were HIV-positive. HIV prevalence in men reporting sexual intercourse with men prior to incarceration was 10% (five out of 52). Nine of the 119 women were HIV-infected (8%), seven of whom were IDU (prevalence of 16% in female IDU). One of the two non-IDU had sexual contacts with male IDU, and the other with men who had sex with men. Tattooing was not associated with HIV infection in either men or women.

Conclusions: Prisoners constitute a group at high risk of HIV infection mainly because of the high proportion of them who are IDU. Imprisonment offers a good opportunity to provide education and preventive programs to this specific group that might otherwise be difficult to reach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Prisoners*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires