Availability of and Access to Medical Services Among HIV-Infected Inmates Incarcerated in North Carolina County Jails

This study assessed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-related services in county jails and staff perceptions of HIV-infected inmates and their care. A statewide telephone questionnaire was administered to detention officers and health care workers providing medical services in North Carolina jails. Eighty-five percent of participating facilities employed one or more on-site medical personnel, including physicians (51%), physician assistants (14%), and nurses (71%). Only 25% of jails tested more than one inmate for HIV per month. In 75% of jails, initial medical screening was performed in a common area. Officers administered medical screening forms at 93% of jails and distributed medications at 81%. Ninety-three percent of officers and 94% of medical staff agreed with this statement: "If an inmate is taking medications in jail, other inmates will know about it." Overall, our data indicate that few North Carolina jail inmates are tested for HIV. Greater protection of confidentiality may improve screening and treatment of HIV-infected inmates.