An Investigation of the Relationship between HIV and Prison Facilities in Texas: The Geographic Variation and Vulnerable Neighborhood Characteristics
Description: Previous research suggests that prisons may be fueling the spread of HIV infection in the general population. In 2005, the HIV rate was more than 2.5 times higher in US prison populations. Environmental factors in prisons such as illicit drug use and unprotected sexual activities can be conducive for HIV transmission. Because the vast majority of prison inmates are incarcerated for less than three years, transmission of HIV between prison inmates and members of the general population may occur at a high rate. The environment in which an individual lives and the entities that comprise it affect the health of that person. Thus the location of prisons within communities, as well as socio-demographic characteristics may influence the geography of HIV infection. HIV surveillance data, obtained from the Texas Department of State Health Services, were used to investigate the relationship between the location of prison units in Texas and HIV infection rates in the surrounding zip codes. The results suggest that HIV prevalence rates are higher among geographic areas in close proximity to a prison unit. With continued behavioral risks and low treatment adherence rates among individuals infected with HIV, there is a possibility of increased HIV prevalence. Vulnerable places, locations with higher HIV prevalence, should be targeted for resource allocation and HIV prevention and care service. This study illustrates the importance of spatial analysis of places vulnerable to increased HIV prevalence in creating more effective public health prevention strategies and interventions.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Kutch, Libbey