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Risk Factors for Potential Occupational Exposure to HIV: A Study of Correctional Officers

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 37 Issue: 2 Dated: March/April 2009 Pages: 114-122
Leanne Fiftal Alarid
Date Published
April 2009
9 pages
This study examined the potential of exposure to HIV in correctional institutions, and how these situations influenced the corrections officer (CO) profession.
Social determinants of risk predicted that both institutional variables and individual level variables influenced risk. As first responders in physical altercations, medical emergencies, accidents, and other unpredictable situations, COs were likely to come in contact with blood and bodily fluids of others which could potentially expose them to infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. Institutional variables more strongly predicted chances of occupational exposure in a corrections setting than did perceptual and individual level variables. The strongest institutional predictor variables were those that affected how much exposure an officer would have to bodily fluids, which was most often defined by the custody level of inmates supervised, length of time in the corrections career, and being in a position of rank. Ranking officers have served significant amount of time, and were called to all medical emergencies and altercations, putting them at the highest risk of being exposed to bodily fluids. Maximum security inmates, prisoners who obtain tattoos while incarcerated, inmate-inmate sex, and IV drug use presented a greater threat to COs (particularly being bitten/scratched and punctured by a needle) than did gender of the prisoners. Being bitten was a common reason for COs and other first responders to seek medical attention. Data were collected from 500 COs from 1 female and 4 male adult units with different custody levels in a Midwestern State that were employed for at least 1 year. Tables and references