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Prison inmates traditionally have significantly higher rates of HIV than non-incarcerated individuals. This becomes a larger problem upon their release, when they can then start spreading the infection throughout the general population.
In an effort to control the problem, the National Institutes of Health recently awarded a $7 million grant to researchers at the University of Illinois to study ways to provide more effective HIV testing and treatment options to inmates.
Investigators are planning on instituting a system that makes HIV testing a regular part of prisoners' healthcare. Those who are diagnosed with the disease will be given treatment and counseling.
"Each year, an estimated one in seven individuals infected with HIV passes through a correctional facility, which suggests that these facilities are key sites for public health interventions targeting HIV/AIDS," said Lawrence Ouellet, who will lead the study.
Researchers believe that offering a greater range of treatment and counseling options may help reduce the number of inmates who rejoin the general population and begin spreading infections.
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