HIV in Prisons: Public Health and Human Rights Approach Covered at Crime Commission

25 April 2016 - On the side-lines of the 25 th Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, panelists today discussed public health and human rights based approaches in addressing HIV in prisons. 

Chairing the event, UNODC Deputy Executive Director, Aldo Lale-Demoz, said that few countries implement the comprehensive package of HIV prevention, treatment and care services in prisons. 

"The prevalence of HIV, sexually transmitted infections, hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis in prison populations is often higher than in the community," said Mr. Lale-Demoz. 

Present at the event were Mr. Pieter-Henk Schroor, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the Netherlands, Ms. Charlotta, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Sweden,  Ms. Martina Osterhus, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Norway. 

The purpose of the session was to highlight public health and human rights issues related to HIV in prisons, and to promote the implementation of the comprehensive package of HIV prevention, treatment and care services for people in prisons. 

In her presentation titled HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care in Prisons and other Closed Settings: A Comprehensive Package of Interventions, Dr. Monica Beg, Chief, HIV/AIDS Section, UNODC, highlighted the prevalence of HIV and Tuberculosis in Prisons and discussed the obstacles  service provision. 

"UNODC, jointly with other UN partners, have developed an evidence based Comprehensive Package of 15 interventions," she said  These 15 key Interventions are intended to support countries, to effectively respond to HIV/AIDS in prison settings.

"While each intervention is effective on its own, the combined effect of implementing all the 15 key Interventions  will have the greatest impact on HIV prevention and treatment in prisons," she noted. 

Dr Ehab Salah, Prisons and HIV Adviser, UNODC , made the second presentation on the African HIV in Prisons Partnership Network. AHPPN is a web based network with a membership of more than a thousand experts on Health, HIV and TB in prisons from all over the world.

"A key achievement of the network is the 2009 African Declaration of Commitment  for HIV and AIDS  Prevention, Treatment and Care in Prisons adopted by 27 African countries ," he highlighted. 

In the final presentation of the session. Ms. Olivia Rope discussed HIV in Prisons: The Nelson Mandela and Bangkok Rules and Countries Experiences. "Evidence shows that needle and syringe programmes in prisons have significantly reduced HIV transmission," she said. 

To end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, we will need to drastically increase coverage of  evidence informed, gender sensitive and human rights based HIV prevention, treatment and care services in prisons and other closed settings. This will need  increased investment in prison health budget, close coordination and collaboration between public health, criminal justice, prison administration, social support and civil society sectors. 

"UNODC remains committed to support Member States and civil society to fast-track access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services for people in prisons and other closed settings," concluded Mr Lale-Demoz. 

The side event was co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, who are major donors of the UNODC project for HIV prevention, treatment and care in prisons in sub-Saharan Africa as well as African HIV in Prisons Partnership Network and Penal Reform International.

Photo:UNODC/Alessandro Scotti

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