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Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, say they believe they have discovered why HIV has such a disproportionate impact on African-Americans'they link it to the similarly disproportionate number of black men in U.S. jails and prisons. An analysis of census data and federal records on 850,000 Americans who contracted HIV between 1982 and 1996 shows that as the percentage of African-American men in U.S. jails increased, so did the HIV rate among blacks. Because HIV rates are alarmingly high in jails and prisons, black men became infected at record-high numbers while incarcerated and then transmitted the virus to their sex partners after being released, the researchers say. The link among race, prison, and HIV is so strong that the researchers say it almost completely explains why half of all new U.S. HIV cases are occurring among African-Americans.

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