BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
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UNTIL THURSDAY, AUGUST 24, 2017, 10 A.M. ET                                       CONTACT: KARA MCCARTHY
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WASHINGTON — An estimated 17,150 state and federal prisoners were known to have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) at yearend 2015, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced today. This was the lowest number since 1991, the first year BJS began collecting HIV data on prisoners, when 17,680 prisoners were known to have HIV.   

The number of state and federal prisoners who had HIV peaked at an estimated 25,980 prisoners in 1998. Between 1998 and 2015, the estimated number of state prisoners who had HIV declined by 9,300 prisoners, from 24,910 to 15,610. During the same period, the federal prison population that had HIV grew by 470 prisoners, from 1,066 to 1,536.

In 2015, the rate of HIV among state and federal prisoners was the lowest observed rate during BJS's 25-year history of collecting HIV data on prisoners. The rate was 1,297 HIV prisoners per 100,000 prisoners in 2015, which was down from 2,231 HIV prisoners per 100,000 in 1991.

The number of AIDS-related deaths among state prisoners decreased from 73 deaths in 2010 to a preliminary count of 45 deaths in 2015, according to data from BJS's Deaths in Custody Reporting Program. The annual number of AIDS-related deaths among federal prisoners has been less than 10 each year between 2010 and 2015. In 2015 there was one AIDS-related death among federal prisoners.

State and federal prison systems have various practices for testing prisoners for HIV at admission, while incarcerated and during the release process. In 2015, as part of the prison admission process, 15 states reported that they tested all incoming prisoners regardless of consent, and 17 states reported that all prisoners were offered an HIV test, but they could decline or opt out of taking the test. About two-thirds (66 percent) of persons admitted to prison were in states that conducted either mandatory or opt-out testing during the admission process.

In 2015, the most common practice of testing prisoners for HIV during the release process was upon request by the prisoner. More than a third (37 percent) of prisoners released in 2015 were in jurisdictions that offered testing upon request at release, and a fifth (21 percent) of prisoners released were in a state that offered all prisoners testing as part of the release process. Eight percent of prisoners released were from a state that did not provide an HIV test as part of the release process.

Other findings included—

  • At yearend 2015, an estimated 15,920 male prisoners and 1,220 female prisoners had HIV, down from 16,410 for males and 1,330 for females at yearend 2014.
  • From 2010 to 2015, the number of male prisoners who had HIV declined by 14 percent, while the number of female prisoners who had HIV declined by 31 percent.
  • In 2015, the AIDS-related mortality rate was 5 per 100,000 for black state prisoners, 4 per 100,000 for white prisoners and 1 per 100,000 for Hispanic prisoners.

The report, HIV in Prisons, 2015 - Statistical Tables (NCJ 250641), was written by BJS statisticians Laura M. Maruschak and Jennifer Bronson. The report, related documents and additional information about BJS's statistical publications and programs can be found on the BJS website at


The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan R. Hanson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has six bureaus and offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART). More information about OJP and its components can be found at

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