15 July 2018 - Vienna, Austria -
In prison, women have a higher prevalence of HIV than in the community. However, women have limited access to health care including sexual and reproductive care, particularly pre- and post-natal care, and antiretroviral treatment. As a result, more children born in prison are at risk of being infected with HIV.
Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV is part of the comprehensive package of interventions promoted by UNODC and other UN agencies as essential for an effective national HIV response in prisons. PMTCT of HIV programmes in prisons requires tailored human rights, public health and evidence based approaches that are gender-responsive and take into consideration the multiple vulnerabilities women in prisons face.
3-4 July 2018 -In response to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) resolution 26/2 on "Ensuring access to measures for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in prisons", UNODC hosted an Expert Group Meeting in Vienna. The objective of this meeting was to contribute towards the development of a technical guidance document on implementing measures for PTMCT of HIV in prisons, based on international guidelines. This tool is intended to support Member States in their efforts to increase their capacity to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV in prisons.
Over 40 participants specialised in health and HIV in prisons, including technical experts from Member States, members of international and community based organisations and academia took part in this event.
"People's needs and rights are at the centre of UNODC's work" affirmed Miwa Kato, Director of Division for Operations of UNODC in her opening remarks. She also stressed the importance of ensuring access to HIV services for women at each stage of the criminal justice system. H.E. Kjersti Ertresvaag Andersen, Ambassador of Norway to the UN in Vienna, advocated for improved access to health care for women and children in prisons. Deborah von Zinkernagel, Director, Community Support, Social Justice and Inclusion at UNAIDS, reaffirmed their support in providing comprehensive health care in prisons. Gilberto Gerra, Chief of Drug Prevention and Health Branch of UNODC stressed the importance of addressing mental health issues in women prisons around the globe.
In closing, Monica Beg, Chief of HIV/AIDS Section and Global Coordinator HIV/AIDS, UNODC, who also Chaired the meeting, concluded that ensuring access to measures for PMTCT of HIV in prisons warrants a multi-sectoral approach, and needs to be integrated with broader sexual and reproductive health care, including management of sexually transmitted infections, and antiretroviral therapy. This also requires commitment of and cooperation among all relevant partners responsible for healthcare throughout the criminal justice system and in communities, to ensure a seamless continuum of care.
Ensuring that no more babies are born with HIV in prisons!