2010-Dec-26, 30 million men and women at risk for HIV every year in closed settings

In nearly all countries HIV prevalence in closed settings is particularly high, and higher than in the community, causing serious challenges to governments, non-governmental and international organizations.. Close to 6% of male inmates tested at a São Paulo (Brazil) penitentiary, for example, were living with HIV. In several countries of sub-Saharan Africa, more than 20% or 30% of the prison population is living with HIV. Women in prisons are particularly affected by HIV. Such evidence has prompted some countries to move towards introducing HIV prevention services in prisons.

Some countries have made in the recent years enormous progresses in addressing the needs of people in detention and ensuring the respect of their rights to health. However, globally there is a serious lack of prevention, treatment and care for HIV and other infectious diseases within prison settings. Comprehensive HIV care should be accessible for all prisoners in the form of prevention, voluntary counselling and testing, antiretroviral treatment when necessary, prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections, as well as support. It should also be noted that while prisoners are most at risk, prison staff are also at risk of contracting HIV, TB and hepatitis.

Effective policies to prevent HIV inside prisons and other correctional institutions is often hampered by the denial of the problem as well as the denial of the existence of the factors that contribute to the spread of HIV: overcrowding, unsafe sexual activities and injecting drug use, violence, gangs, lack of protection for the youngest, female and weakest inmates, corruption and poor prison health services.

Together with governments, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations, UNODC is committed to protect people from getting HIV in prisons and for getting access to human rights based and gender sensitive HIV services for all.

For example, in India, VCT services have only been very recently launched; In Africa, the help taking "prisons" out of its isolation, a network on HIV in prisons has been established; HIV services for women in prisons in Afghanistan are being established.

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