AIDS 2012 - SATELLITE SESSION
Turning the Tide: Not Without Prisons!
Thursday, 26 July 2012
Yesterday, UNODC organized, in the margins of the Washington XIX International AIDS Conference, a satellite session entitled "Turning the Tide: Not Without Prisons", underlining the urgency of developing national AIDS responses that include people in prisons.
During the satellite, UNODC launched a joint policy brief entitled "HIV prevention, treatment and care in prisons and other closed settings: a comprehensive package of interventions".
This publication of UNODC, ILO and UNDP proposes a package of 15 interventions to address HIV in prisons settings: (1) Information, education and communication, (2) HIV testing and counselling, (3) Treatment, care and support, (4) Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, (5) Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, (6) Condom programmes, (7) Prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, (8) Prevention of sexual violence, (9) Drug dependence treatment, (10) Needle and syringe programmes, (11) Vaccination, diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis, (12) Post-exposure prophylaxis, (13) Prevention of transmission through medical or dental services, (14) Prevention of transmission through tattooing, piercing and other forms of skin penetration. and (15) Protecting staff from occupational Hazards.
The session was Chaired by Ms. Loide Lungameni, the UNODC Regional Representative for Eastern Africa. In his introductory remarks, Mr. Christian Kroll, the UNODC Global Coordinator for HIV/AIDS, provided a global overview of HIV in prisons and pointed out that the vulnerability of HIV in prisons has multi-factorial causes that requires multidisciplinary responses, involving prison management, human rights, criminal justice, occupational health, public health and gender policies sectors.
The Deputy Prison Commissioner for Kenya Prisons Service, Ms. Mary C. Chepkonga made a presentation on the recent survey conducted in his prisons. In showcasing the Kenya HIV prevalence and related risk behaviours in Kenyan prisons, Ms. Mary C. Chepkonga emphasized the importance of basing prison policy, legislation and programmes on empirical evidence. The Kenyan rapid situational assessment established that the HIV prevalence among prisoners exceeded the national average and that risky sexual practices, drug use among prisoners and gaps in prison health services were real challenges to HIV prevention and care.
Dr. Prof. Heino Stöver from the Faculty of Health and Social Work at the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt provided a detailed overview of two interventions included in the package, namely drug dependence treatment and needle and syringe programme in prisons, both designed to provide services to people who use drugs. He highlighted the scientific evidence that providing sterile injecting equipment in prisons is an appropriate and important preventive health measure. He also noted that the provision of these harm reduction interventions were lagging behind in prisons compared to those available in the general community, despite the principle of equivalence.
From Brazil, Dr. Rodrigo Zilli Haanwinckel of the Department of STD, AIDS and Viral Hepatitis at the Ministry of Health presented the Brazilian experience to implement prevention of mother-to-child transmission in prisons and to maintain low transmission rates, on the background of a concentrated epidemic in the country. He highlighted the challenges associated with the provision of such services in prisons, compared to strategies put in place for the general population.
Ms. Alice Ouedraogo, Director of the ILO Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work, emphasised that a safe and healthy prison work environment is critical in protecting the rights and health of both prison staff and prisoners. This starts with the involvement and protection of the occupational safety and health of prison personnel who play a key role in promoting HIV and tuberculosis prevention among the prison population.