Purpose. Prison inmates present with higher rates of disease morbidity and mortality than the general population. The rates of certain infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis are reported to be particularly elevated in prison systems. Scarce information, however, exists on the overall infectious disease profile of inmate populations. The present study examined the prevalence of major infectious diseases in one of the nation's largest prison populations. Methods. The study population consisted of 336,668 Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) inmates who were incarcerated for any duration between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2001. Information on medical conditions, sentencing factors, and sociodemographic factors was obtained from an institution-wide medical information system. Results. Latent tuberculosis infection constituted the most prevalent infectious disease reported among inmates. This was followed in frequency by hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and syphilis. Prevalence estimates for most of the infectious diseases under study exhibited substantial differences across gender, age, and ethnicity. Conclusion. The present study shows that the prison population had prevalence rates that were substantially higher for latent TB, HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis C than those reported for the general population and some incarcerated populations. The rate of active TB among TDCJ inmates, however, was comparable to that of the general population and other incarcerated populations.
- Infectious Disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health