Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) management in correctional settings is logistically feasible, but HIV-related outcomes before release have not been recently systematically examined.
To evaluate HIV treatment outcomes throughout incarceration, including jail and prison.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Retrospective cohort study of longitudinally linked demographic, pharmacy, and laboratory data on 882 prisoners within the Connecticut Department of Correction (2005-2012) with confirmed HIV infection, who were continually incarcerated 90 days or more, had at least 2 HIV-1 RNA and CD4 lymphocyte measurements, and were prescribed antiretroviral therapy.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Three electronic databases (correctional, laboratory, and pharmacy) were integrated to assess HIV viral suppression (HIV-1 RNA levels, <400 copies/mL) on intake and release. Secondary outcomes were mean change in log-transformed HIV-1 RNA levels and mean change in CD4 lymphocyte count during incarceration. Demographic characteristics, prescribed pharmacotherapies, receipt of directly observed therapy, and duration of incarceration were analyzed as possible explanatory variables for HIV viral suppression in logistic regression models.
Among 882 HIV-infected prisoners with 1185 incarceration periods, mean HIV-1 RNA level decreased by 1.1 log10 and CD4 lymphocyte count increased by 98 cells/µL over time, with a higher proportion achieving viral suppression by release compared with entry (70.0% vs 29.8%; P < .001); 36.9% of antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimens were changed during incarceration. After adjusting for baseline HIV-1 RNA level, prerelease viral suppression correlated with female sex (adjusted odds ratio, 1.81; 95% CI, 1.26-2.59) and psychiatric disorder severity below the sample median (adjusted odds ratio, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.12-1.99), but not race/ethnicity, incarceration duration, ART regimen or dosing strategy, or directly observed therapy.
Conclusions and Relevance
Though just one-third of HIV-infected prisoners receiving ART entered correctional facilities with viral suppression, HIV treatment was optimized during incarceration, resulting in the majority achieving viral suppression by release. Treatment for HIV within prison is facilitated by a highly structured environment and, when combined with simple well-tolerated ART regimens, can result in viral suppression during incarceration. In the absence of important and effective community-based resources, incarceration can be an opportunity of last resort to initiate continuous ART for individual health and, following the “treatment as prevention” paradigm, potentially reduce the likelihood of HIV transmission to others after release if continuity of HIV care is sustained.