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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Seroprevalence of HIV in Central Jail Inmates of Amritsar

Author(s): A. Aggarwal, U. Arora, N. Nagpal

Vol. 30, No. 4 (2005-10 - 2005-12)

Most of the well defined high risk behaviour of HIV infection are present in jail inmates, so prisoner population is one of the vulnerable pockets where HIV infection can really be a matter of concern. Because of the prevalence of intravenous drug abuse and sexual promiscuity in prisoners prior to and after incarceration, jail inmates form an equally high risk group for acquiring or transmitting HIV infection to one another.

500 blood samples were collected from prisoners of Central jail Amritsar at random taking all Universal Work Precautions (UWP) after obtaining consent from all the study cases. Serum was separated and preserved for further use in the refrigerator. Serum samples were tested for HIV I and II antibodies by using ELISA/rapid/simple tests, according to the instructions provided in the kits. Pre test counselling was given to all the inmates. Post test counselling was provided to reactive individuals.

A total of 500 jail inmates were studied. Two hundred thirty (46%) of these were in the reproductive age group. Four hundred forty (88%) were males and 60 (20%) were females. Two hundred twenty three (44.6%) were illiterate while 42 (8.4%) had education upto matric.

Majority 370 (74%) were of rural background, while 130 (26%) belonged to urban areas. Thirteen (2.6%) among these prisoners were foreigners. HIV -1 antibodies were detected in 2.4% (n = 12/500). All the reactive individuals were practising high risk behaviour and were in reproductive age group. No case of HIV-2 antibodies was detected.

In the present study, 230 (46%) of the jail inmates were in the reproductive age group and out of the 12 seropositive cases, 8 (66.66%) were in the age group of 15-30 years. Four hundred forty (88%) were males and only 60 (12%) were females. The male dominancy in the jails may be explained on the basis of their greater involvement in criminal acts.

Most of the individuals in study group, i.e. 370 (74%) were from rural areas. This finding is consistent with the findings of other studies1-2 who reported that HIV is now spreading from high risk metropolitan cities to small cities and towns.

High risk behaviours were present in 361 (72.2%). Eighty six (23.82%) jail inmates gave history of extramarital contact and 26 (5.20%) were homosexuals. In a study of Decker et al3, 7% prisoners were engaged in homosexual activity. Out of the 12 seropositive cases, six (50%) gave history of extramarital contacts, three (25%) were unmarried with multiple sexual contacts. The remaining three (25%) had history of intravenous drug abuse. The incidence of 2.4% in the present study is quite high as compared to the previous study conducted in the same jail 9 years back (0.25%)4. This may be due to an overall increase in HIV seropositivity. The study revealed a rising trend of HIV seropositivity in Jail as compared to previous study which was conducted nine yeas back.


  1. Singh H, Dewan SP, Kaur A. HIV sneaks in Amritsar Truck Operators, 1993. Abstract of NCIAS STD and AIDS, 1995.
  2. Malik A, Malik A. Prevalence of HIV infection in Aligarh. Ind J Med Microbiol 1998; 16(3): 123-25.
  3. Decker MD, Vaughn WK, Brodie JS, Hutcheson RH. Seroepidemiology of hepatitis B in Tennessee prisoners. The Journal of Infectious Diseases 1984; 150(3): 450-458.
  4. Kumar S. HIV antibody status in Jail inmates. M.D. Thesis. Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, 1994.

A. Aggarwal, U. Arora, N. Nagpal
Department of Microbiology,
Govt. Medical College, Amritsar.

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