Florida leads nation in prisoners with HIV, study shows

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Florida now leads the country in percentage of prisoners living with HIV.

A new study from the Prison Policy Initiative shows that Florida’s state and federal correctional institutions hold the most prisoners in the country living with HIV.

Mitch Perry, reporter for the Florida Phoenix and on-air host for WMNF, reported on the disease’s prevalence in Florida.

“Florida was the tops in the country with nearly three percent of its population, prison population, having HIV in prison, and specifically that is 1,800 HIV positive people in prison in 2021”

Why? Wanda Bertram, spokesperson for the Prison Policy Initiative, cites many possibilities.

35 states, including Florida, have laws that criminalize the transmission of HIV. Bertram says that this, among other factors, leads to high rates of the disease in prison.

“The same people who tend to have HIV are the same people who tend to be incarcerated most often. For the reason that these are, what these populations have in common, is that they tend to be falling through the cracks, really the gaping holes, in our social services system.”

Black prisoners are the hardest hit, suffering a disproportionately higher rate of HIV in prisons than other races.

“We simply shouldn’t be living in a society where our criminal justice system is blatantly racist at several different stages of the process.”

I contacted the Florida Department of Corrections and did not receive a response.