Department of Justice Releases Report on People with HIV in Prisons

Content From: HIV.govPublished: March 29, 20232 min read



The Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, recently published HIV in Prisons, 2021 – Statistical Tables. The report provides data on persons in the custody of state and federal correctional authorities who were known to be living with HIV in 2021.

“While about one percent of persons in state and federal prison were living with HIV, testing and monitoring remain important to assess long-term trends,” noted Dr. Alex Piquero, Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The report presents national- and jurisdiction-level estimates of the number and rate of prisoners living with HIV while in the custody of state and federal correctional authorities. Jurisdictional data on HIV testing practices during intake, while in custody, and during discharge planning are also included.

Highlights of 2021 Data on People with HIV in State and Federal Prisons

According to the data presented in the report:

  • At year-end 2021, an estimated 11,810 persons with HIV were in the custody of state and federal correctional authorities, down from 12,060 in 2020.
    • Of the 11,810 persons with HIV in custody in the U.S. at year-end 2021, 1,216 were in federal custody and 10,600 were in state custody, with Florida (1,863) and Texas (1,583) having the largest number of persons with HIV in state custody.
    • The population of state and federal prisoners living with HIV has fallen for 23 straight years from its peak of 25,980 in 1998.
  • At year-end 2021, about 1.1% of persons—1.2% of males and 0.9% of females—in state and federal prisons were living with HIV.
    • At year-end 2021, 0.9% of the population in federal custody were living with HIV, and 1.2% of the population in all state prisons were living with HIV, with Florida (2.8%), Louisiana (2.5%), and Mississippi (2.5%) having the largest proportions of individuals with HIV in state custody.
  • In 2021, of the 50 jurisdictions reporting their HIV testing practices,
    • 16 jurisdictions (which accounted for 40% of prison admissions) conducted mandatory HIV testing during intake.
    • A total of 18 jurisdictions offered HIV tests during routine medical exams of persons in custody, up from 11 in 2017.
  • HIV testing on the prisoner’s request was the most commonly reported testing practice during the discharge process in 2017 (27 jurisdictions) and in 2021 (29 jurisdictions).

For more details, read the DOJ report.