African Americans are at the intersection of the AIDS epidemic and burgeoning prison and offender populations, yet little is known about offenders' HIV knowledge and risk behaviors or ability to access effective services. We present findings from an exploratory study based on 300 interviews with New York City offenders conducted in 2001–2002. The data indicate relatively high rates of HIV infection and HIV risk behaviors among African American and other offenders. There were no clear patterns of risk behaviors by race/ethnicity. Although overall HIV knowledge level is high, important gaps in HIV knowledge remain and there is widespread skepticism among offenders about government information about HIV/AIDS. In the corrections setting, there is inconsistent access to HIV prevention and education services, and an emphasis on more passive learning materials. To reduce HIV infection rates, there is a need to expand peer-led and culturally- and gender-specific interventions, and to improve access to correctional facilities for community-based HIV service providers. HIV interventions must also be expanded for offenders on probation and parole. Mandatory HIV education and harm reduction approaches should be considered.


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pp. 108-128
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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