HIV/AIDS Education in Prison: A Window of Opportunity

Michael Chaple, N. D. R. I., Inc.
Steven Belenko, Columbia University
Susan M. Crimmins, California State University/N.D.R.I.


At year's end 1999, the number of AIDS cases in prison was more than five times the rate of the U.S. general population (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2001). Of the total number of HIV-positive state and federal prison inmates (25,757), New York housed more than one quarter (7,000). Yet outside of prisons, offenders are not routinely exposed to HIV education and prevention programs.

As part of a NIDA-funded research study, interviews (n=300) are being conducted with offenders at various stages of the New York State criminal justice system. One goal is to examine differences among parolees, prisoners and probationers with regard to involvement in HIV risk behaviors (e.g. High risk sexual activity and injection drug use), and overall knowledge of HIV/AIDS related issues.

We hypothesize that, with respect to risk taking, parolees will show greater restraint and responsibility (in the six months prior to incarceration) compared to prisoners and probationers. With respect to HIV/AIDS knowledge, we hypothesize that parolees and prisoners will have a higher level of knowledge than probationers about HIV transmission and risk behaviors, due to the recent exposure to prison-based HIV education programs. Offender characteristics related to risk behaviors and HIV knowledge will also be examined and compared among the three samples.

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Updated 05/20/2006