Tracie Gardner, Founder and Director, Women's Initiative to Stop HIV NY, New York
When looking at the incidence of many STDs, particularly HIV, they are concentrated in poor, segregated neighborhoods that are characterized by high rates of incarceration. Inner-city populations of African Americans and Latinos account for almost two-thirds of the 2.2 million Americans in prison nationwide, and two disturbing trends are increasingly present in these communities.Show More
When talking about incarceration and HIV, the main myth to explain this relationship is that when men go to prison they contract HIV there and then bring it back into the community. And this is not really the case. Mass incarceration removes men from a community and the person left behind chooses another partner, who also may be sleeping with other people in the community (aka multiple concurrent sexual partnerships). When widespread, this behavior creates an efficient, effective pattern for introducing and maintaining an STD through a network of sexual relationships.
And so as we find ourselves with poverty and joblessness leading to crime, we will continue to see HIV flourish, especially with a broken health care system. HIV is a disease of LOCATION. Behavior is not enough to explain the disproportionate effect on black and Latino communities.