Federal and state inmates in the U.S. have HIV at four times the rate of the general population, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) study released Thursday.
BJS reported that at the end of 2015, 17,150 of America’s total prison population tested positive for HIV, roughly 1.2 percent. In comparison, only 0.3 percent of the general population tested positive for HIV in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). BJS touted the numbers proudly, however, as the incarcerated HIV rate has seen a steady decline since 1998 and the 1.2 percent rate is the lowest since the bureau began measuring incarcerated HIV rates in 1991.
The BJS study comes after six members of President Donald Trump’s advisory council on HIV/AIDS resigned earlier this summer, claiming the president “just doesn’t care.” Trump has proposed budget cuts to HIV/AIDS programs and his administration deleted a government website devoted to the conditions in January, A&U Magazine reported.
The resignations sparked Democrat Rep. Barbara Lee and Republican Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to send a letter to the White House requesting that the president address the issue.
“Our progress is dependent on continued federal support and coordination, especially from your administration,” the representatives wrote. “Federal programs are essential to ensure the care of patients and the prevention of new infections. We cannot afford to step back.”
The lawmakers request that Trump reinstate the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) website and drop proposed funding cuts, but his decision is unlikely to affect inmates, as they show a low rate of death, indicating good care within prisons.
The BJS statistics show that of the 17,150 inmates with HIV, the prison system only reported 45 HIV/AIDS related deaths in 2015, a rate of only 3.3 per 100,000. In comparison, the general population experienced 2.1 HIV/AIDS deaths per 100,000 in 2015.
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