Infectious diseases appear at higher rates among inmates than among the general public (Colsher et al., 1992; Fitzgerald et al. 1984; Garrity et al., 2003; Kahn et al, 2004; Lindquist and Lindquist, 1999; Wallace et al., 1991; Hammett et al., 2002). The estimated prevalence of HIV infection in the United States is over two times higher among incarcerated populations than in the general population (Wilper, et. al., 2009). The rate of confirmed AIDS cases is 2.5 times higher among prison inmates than in the general population (Maruschak and Beavers, 2009; McQuillan and Kruszon-Moran, 2005). Further, high proportions of all individuals with serious infectious diseases serve time in a correctional facility (e.g., 20 to 26 percent of individuals living with HIV, 29 to 43 percent of individuals infected with Hepatitis C, and 40 percent of those with Tuberculosis) (Hammett et al., 2002).
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention recently awarded a grant for demonstration and program services to support the development and evaluation of a comprehensive, routine, opt-out jail-based rapid HIV testing initiative. The grantee, the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, is working with the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, Georgia to explore strategies to conduct STD and Hepatitis screenings and provide Hepatitis B vaccinations to inmates who screen preliminary positive for HIV. The services will be provided during an initial health screening or medical intake evaluation.