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HIV and the Need for Testing in Inmate PopulationsResearch Paper

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¶ … filled with crime and criminals. It is up to the public to decide whether criminals can be trusted and to what extent they can be trusted. When it comes to infectious disease however, trust is not an option. HIV is a serious disease. It affects a person for the rest of his or her life. While prisoners do not engage in sexual activity or violence often, it is important to regulate the chances of someone being infected. HIV can spread through sexual intercourse. It can also spread from blood on blood contact. Regardless of criminal history of a prisoner or likelihood of engaging in sexual or violent activities, it is best to keep everyone safe, by testing inmates for any transmittable diseases like HIV / AIDS.

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Although testing kits can be seen as an added expense, it is a necessary expense that down the line could save money and save lives. Each year the cases of HIV and AIDS has steadily increased by about 50,000 new cases each year. In the United States alone, over 1,200,000 people have been infected with HIV. From those statistics, 1 in 8 do not even know they are infected. Although some populations are more at risk, like homosexuals that practice anal sex and dug addicted people that share needles, it is still easily present in the current population as roughly 1 in 300 Americans may have HIV infection.

Unfortunately, another group that has a higher level of HIV infections are African-Americans. Many African-Americans exist in the prison population. This is a sad and unfair reality, but it is nonetheless a reality. Recent statistics from the CDC reveal that the hardest hit among the racial groups in relation to HIV infection are African-Americans. "Blacks/African-Americans represent approximately 12% of the U.S. population, but accounted for an estimated 44% of new HIV infections in 2010. They also accounted for 41% of people living with HIV infection in 2011." (Cdc.gov)

The federal bureau of statistics shows that the second highest of the inmate population is African-American by 37% with whites leading by 58.9%. When including statistics from the U.S. Census, the percent of the incarcerated population that is black is 40% with 39% being white. National incarceration rate for blacks is 2,306 per 100,000 vs. 450 per 100,000 for whites. "Nationally, according to the U.S. Census, Blacks are incarcerated five times more than Whites are, and Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to be incarcerated as Whites." (Sakala) Because African-Americans or blacks have been documented as having a high rate of HIV infection and many of the inmates in prisons are black, it would be a logical conclusion to surmise that there could be some occurrence of HIV infection among the inmate population.

Therefore, it would be best if inmates were tested in order to avoid any potential infections that could arise. People must understand the consequences of HIV infection and the expense. Every person that is HIV infected will have to take medication, a lot of medication, for the rest of his or her lives. This is very expensive. Who pays for it are usually taxpayer if inmate in prison were to be infected. Why add this additional costly expense, when it can easily prevented? It makes no sense to engage in risky behavior when they payout of cautious behavior entirely outweighs the payout of risky behavior.

Essentially one risks a potentially huge and long-term expense just to save a couple of dollars. That does not make sense at all. Therefore, it is best just like President Obama did when he enacted Obama Care, to try to prevent major and chronic disease from happening instead of treating it when it occurs. Prevention is the key stability and the prison population especially needs stability.

Although most people are aware of the quantity and length of time taking medication when infected with HIV, most people do not understand how expensive it is. While there may be a cure in the near future. As of right now, there is no cure, at least not for the majority of the population. Therefore, a breakdown of the costs of HIV medication will perhaps enlighten the occasional of how devastating it can be to treat multiple cases of HIV. For example, many of the drugs used to treat HIV have no generic alternative. Therefore, some of these medications run up to $1,288 for a one-month supply. These medications include Intelence, Sustiva, Truvada, Lexiva, Norvir, Prezista, and Fuzeon. There are perhaps only a few that offer a cheaper generic alternative. Even then, the generic alterative costs hundreds of dollars a month. People with HIV have to take several of these medications daily to keep from experiencing worsening symptoms.

Numerous factors affect price of such medications. One major influence is if a person is insured or not insured.

Several factors can change the cost of a medicine. These factors include: pharmacy discounts prescription insurance generic versions of medications prescription assistance programs location. If you have insurance, your cost may be lower than these averages. People without insurance may have to pay cash price for the medicine. Cash prices are often higher. (Healthline)

Keeping this in mind, it would not be smart or wise to allow the occurrence of HIV to increase without testing because most of the inmates most likely will not be insured. Therefore, either they would have to get insurance, or the prison would have premium for the medication.

In a 2009 article, researchers have examined an inmate's willingness to get tested and treated for HIV. "When they have easy access to HIV counselling and testing, and particularly when they are offered such testing and it is accompanied by access to treatment, care and support (including antiretroviral treatment), many prisoners will take up testing and counselling in prison." ('HIV Testing and Counselling In Prisons and Other Closed Settings: Technical Paper') It appears that people want to know if they have HIV. If the prison population wants to know if they ae infected and want to seek help if they are, why not provide such services?

People have to look at the greater picture. Although budgetary concerns could fuel desire for HIV testing, other things may also inspire action. Prisoners may wish to be tested simply to have peace of mind. Staff working alongside prisoners, tending to them, drawing their blood, may want to know if a patient is infected with HIV. Although it is hard to transmit HIV, infection is certainly unwanted from anyone, anything could happen from a brawl to an attack, and it would make people working and residing in prisons, feel better if they knew who is or is not infected with such a painful and deadly disease.

Some fast facts about inmate HIV infection reveal most of the cases reported are from inmates that never were tested prior. Meaning, had they not been tested for HIV while in prison, they would have never known they had HIV. Raising awareness of HIV prevalence through testing can not only save lives, but also prevent unnecessary suffering. "In 2010, there were 20,093 inmates with HIV / AIDS in state and federal prisons with 91% being men. Among state and federal jurisdictions reporting in 2010 there were 3,913 inmates living with an AIDS diagnosis." (Cdc.gov)

Prison conditions are commonly ideal breeding grounds for headlong spread of HIV / AIDS infection. Prisons are frequently overcrowded. Prisons also commonly operate in an ether of fear and violence. "Tensions abound, including sexual tensions. Release from these tensions, and from the boredom of prison life, is often found in the consumption of drugs or in sex." (Avert.org) Since people cannot get away from certain situations while residing in prison, it may be inevitable for some that they be exposed to potential HIV infection.

Conclusion

In conclusion, HIV testing of inmates is a crucial component of several things. The first preventing additional infection in the prison population. Another is raising awareness of HIV / AIDS. How it still exists and may exist at higher levels with certain races. The third is providing diagnosis and treatment for inmates that never knew they had HIV / AIDS as research indicates many HIV cases discovered within the prison population are from cases of individuals that were never diagnosed before.

HIV is a serious and costly chronic disease that can and does kill. Prisoners that have HIV must suffer through daily medications that end up costing thousands of dollars a month. These dollars typically from taxpayer money. If it is so easy and less expensive to rule out or diagnose HIV infection, why not do it? It should be standard practice for all prisons and jails within all countries, especially developed countries.

If prisons make it a standard to test for HIV, they will avoid several things.

1. High expenses (money can go to rehabilitation services like college education for criminals and training)

2. Increased infected population (less infected inmates means less worry)

3. Less fear and stigma among… [END OF PREVIEW]

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