Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in male prisoners. New insights into an emerging syndrome
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Between September 1981 and June 1982, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia were diagnosed in seven previously healthy young men incarcerated for 5 to 38 months in New York State correctional facilities. All seven patients were anergic, six were lymphopenic, and all developed oral candidiasis. Immunologic evaluation in vitro showed profound defects in cellular immune function in patients tested, with inversion of the normal ratio of helper to suppressor T-cell populations in four of five patients studied. No underlying immunosuppressive disorder was found in any patient, including three patients who had postmortem examinations. Based on these cases, the incidence of this syndrome among inmates of New York State correctional facilities is estimated to be at least 20 out of 100 000 per year. None of the inmates was homosexual but all had used intravenous drugs extensively before incarceration. If intravenous drug use is a cause of the syndrome, then the epidemiologic findings of this study suggest a prolonged incubation period (mean, 14.6 months) before development of serious opportunistic infection. Recognition that certain prisoners are at high risk for the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome has important implications for the prison health-care system.