Providing drug therapy to HIV-positive prison inmates helped a significant
number of them achieve suppression of the virus before they were released, a
new study finds.
HIV patients with so-called "viral suppression" are less likely to
transmit the Aids-causing virus to others, experts noted.
The study, published online in JAMA Internal Medicine, included 882
HIV-infected prisoners in Connecticut who were in jail for at least 90 days and
were put on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Most of the prisoners were men, their
average age was 43 and about half were black.
drug therapy curbs HIV
Likelihood of viral suppression
Nearly 30% of the inmates had viral suppression when they began their sentence,
compared with 70% just before their release, the study found. Age, race, length
of jail term, or type of antiretroviral
regimen did not affect the likelihood of viral suppression, according to a
journal news release.
"Treatment for HIV within prison is facilitated by a highly structured
environment and, when combined with simple well-tolerated ART regimens, can
result in viral suppression during incarceration," said study author Dr
Jaimie Meyer, of Yale University School of Medicine, and colleagues.
But not every state has resources similar to those in Connecticut, another
doctor pointed out.
"Unfortunately, the features of the excellent correctional care
provided to HIV-infected persons in this Connecticut system are not available
to all of the estimated 20 000 HIV-infected persons incarcerated in federal or
state facilities," Dr Michael Puisis, a correctional consultant in
Evanston, Illinois, wrote in an accompanying commentary in the journal.
"While the Connecticut study is a positive accomplishment, HIV care in
correctional centres still needs improvement in several areas," he said.
"We should take fullest advantage of the incarceration period, when people
can receive supervised treatment, to improve their health and to develop
discharge plans that will maintain these benefits on the outside."
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