A study of acquired immune deficiency syndrome in Maryland prisons -- the first such study to be completed -- found surprisingly few inmates with the AIDS virus, and only one long-term prisoner with AIDS, Maryland corrections officials said yesterday.
"Maybe this myth of rampant homosexual activity and rampant drug abuse isn't as prevalent, at least from what these tests indicate," said Corrections Commissioner Arnold Hopkins.
Hopkins released results of a surveillance test of 748 incoming male prisoners, 35 incoming female inmates and 137 prisoners serving terms of seven years or more. Fifty-two of the incoming males and six of the incoming women tested positive for the virus, while six male prisoners out of 137 serving long-term sentences tested positive. Hopkins said only one prisoner at this time has AIDS out of the total 12,500 prisoners in the state penal system.
Dr. Frank Polk, a Johns Hopkins Hospital epidemiologist who headed the prison AIDS study, said the presence of the virus does not mean that a subject has acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Polk said the results of the Maryland study should not be assumed to represent other prison populations because the prevalence of the AIDS virus varies from region to region.