UNODC and partners develop guidelines workshop on gender, HIV / AIDS and related infections in prisons

October 18, 2010 - The prevalence of AIDS among prisoners is higher than among the general population. Prison conditions and lack of proper care are factors that increase the vulnerability of these people to HIV / AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The estimate is from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS).

In prisons, the vulnerability is increased by risk factors such as needle exchange for drug use, tattoos, piercings and razors, as well as improper sterilization or reuse of medical or dental care material.TB is also a serious threat to prison population. Recent researches suggest that Brazilian prisons have an incidence rate of tuberculosis among persons deprived of liberty up to 40 times higher than the general population.

Hygiene conditions, overcrowding for the enforcement of sentences and the lack of access to health services within the prison are among the main reasons for the high incidence of these diseases among prisoners.

Another area of concern in the prison system is vulnerability in gender relations. Although significant advances have been made for the recognition of gender inequalities and inequities, there are still gaps to be recognized for progress towards gender equality, especially in the most affected populations such as women's groups, ethnic and sexual minorities and the population deprived of liberty.

The issue of women's prison is growing across the country. Figures show the increase in the number of women sentenced to prison and institutional improvisation doesn´t meet this demand. In other words, despite the significant growth of the number of women prisoners, there are no new state investments capable of addressing the specificities of this population, resulting in the imprisonment of these women into cells or wards known as "female" within men's prisons, the so-called mixed prisons.Considering the importance of a debate about the vulnerabilities of the prison population to HIV / AIDS and related infections in a gender perspective, UNODC, in collaboration with PAHO, the Ministries of Health and Justice of Brazil and other agencies of the United Nations, carries out, until 20 October, the Workshop on Gender, HIV / AIDS and related infections in prisons.
The workshop, which includes representatives of UNODC, the ministries of Justice and Health, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Fund of the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS), is to establish guidelines for the preparation of information/educational materials and the development of activities and programs on gender, HIV / AIDS and infections related aimed at the professionals working in prisons.

The workshop has the support of the Embassy of the Netherlands and is part of a series of actions undertaken under the National Health Plan for the Prison System / PNSSP, which aims to ensure access to health services to people deprived of liberty by offering primary care services inside the prisons. These actions are developed by multidisciplinary teams that work towards prevention, promotion and treatment of diseases, focusing on comprehensive health care.

Brazil currently has 239 health workers in the prison system / DEPEN, distributed in 212 prisons (CNES, May/2010) of 18 states, covering about 150 000 people deprived of freedom, a significant part of the prison population, which counts 494 000 people (InfoPen, June/2010).

Guiding lines

- Gender as an index of vulnerability and inequalities in health;
- Gender as a trigger for violence, discrimination, vulnerability and inequality in health;
- Strategies to promote the visibility of human rights and culture of the LGBT community, using a language that is not discriminatory, which refers to sexual orientation and gender identity in the prison population;
- Guidelines for the promotion of sexual and reproductive rights of the prison population, regardless of gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, taking into account the comprehensive National Health Policy of LGBT people and other relevant policies;
- Social isolation and de-personification depending on the context of confinement as factors that reinforce existing stigma in relation to the exercise of gender identity.


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