Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Riverside

UC Riverside Previously Published Works bannerUC Riverside

A Cross-Sectional Study of Prisoners in Mexico City Comparing Prevalence of Transmissible Infections and Chronic Diseases with That in the General Population



To describe patterns of transmissible infections, chronic illnesses, socio-demographic characteristics and risk behaviors in Mexico City prisons, including in comparison to the general population, to identify those currently needing healthcare and inform policy.

Materials and methods

A cross-sectional study among 17,000 prisoners at 4 Mexico City prisons (June to December 2010). Participation was voluntary, confidential and based on informed consent. Participants were tested for HIV, Hepatitis B & C, syphilis, hypertension, obesity, and, if at risk, glucose and cholesterol. A subset completed a questionnaire on socio-demographic characteristics and risk behaviors. Positive results were delivered with counseling and treatment or referral.


76.8% (15,517/20,196) of men and 92.9% (1,779/1,914) of women participated. Complete data sets were available for 98.8%. The following prevalence data were established for transmissible infections: HIV 0.7%; syphilis: Anti-TP+/VDRL+ 2.0%; Hepatitis B: HBcAb 2.8%, HBsAg 0.15%; Anti-HCV 3.2%. Obesity: 9.5% men, 33.8% women. Compared with national age- and sex-matched data, the relative prevalence was greater for HIV and syphilis among women, HIV and Hepatitis C in men, and all infections in younger participants. Obesity prevalence was similar for women and lower among male participants. The prevalence of previously diagnosed diabetes and hypertension was lower. Questionnaire data (1,934 men, 520 women) demonstrated lower educational levels, increased smoking and substance use compared to national data. High levels of non-sterile tattooing, physical abuse and histories of sexual violence were found.


The study identified that health screening is acceptable to Mexico City prisoners and feasible on a large-scale. It demonstrated higher prevalence of HIV and other infections compared to national data, though low rates compared to international data. Individual participants benefited from earlier diagnosis, treatment and support. The data collected will also enable the formulation of improved policy for this vulnerable group.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View