The number of inmates in state and federal prisons infected with HIV declined by 16 percent in 2020, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) study.
The decline, from 14,180 in 2019 to 11,940 inmates in 2020, marks the 22nd consecutive year of declining HIV infections among incarcerated populations in the U.S. —and the most significant single-year decrease.
Over the same period, there was a 15 percent slide in the overall number of inmates, according to the BJS report.
The number of inmates living with HIV peaked in 1998 but has since fallen steadily through 2020. According to the study, on average, 4 percent fewer state prisoners live with the virus each year.
Additionally, state prisons reported only 17 AIDS-related deaths in 2019 – the last year the BJS tracked data on deaths – the lowest since data collection began in 1991, the report finds.
A total of 8,065 state prisoners died of the virus across the 29-year period from 1991 to 2019. But 74 percent of the deaths occurred between 1991 and 2000—before the HIV declines in prisons kicked in, according to the study.
In other words, one out of every 100,000 prisoners died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2019. In contrast, the report finds that over 1,000 of every 100,000 prisoners died from the virus in 1995.
According to the report, between 2016 and 2019, not a single inmate died from HIV-related illnesses aged 24 or younger.
This summary was prepared by TCR Associate Editor James Van Bramer