UN supports Mercosur regional project on HIV/AIDS in prison systems

12 December, 2011 - In 2006, member-states of the United Nations committed themselves to the Political Declaration on Universal Access to prevention, treatment, care and support related to HIV. The idea was that these goals were to materialize in 2010, however, there is still much to do. Among the greatest challenges is to provide comprehensive care to persons deprived of freedom.

Globally, at any given time, there are over 9.8 million people in prisons. Each year, millions move from prison to the community and back again.

Without adequate care and services the rate of HIV infections among prisoners in several countries is much higher than among the general population and the risks of contracting the virus, either through consensual and non-consensual sex, either through injecting drug use, are prevalent.

Facing the challenge of changing this reality, the Health Coordinating Committee of Mercosur and United Nations experts on HIV (UNAIDS, UNODC, WHO) meet, between 12 and 14 December in Foz de Iguacu, during the extraordinary meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on HIV / AIDS of MERCOSUR (CIVIH).

The extraordinary meeting arose from the need to include the discussion on policy harmonization addressing HIV/AIDS and co-infection in the prison systems of the countries of MERCOSUR.

Among the proposed objectives are: development of a regional cooperation project focused on the strengthening and harmonization of national policies on HIV, AIDS and tuberculosis, and co-infection on viral hepatitis in prison systems, through the development of joint actions in the region; establishment of intersectoral agendas involving the areas of justice, health, and civil society in regard to the qualification and ensuring universal access to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of STDs, HIV/AIDS and HIV co-infection of TB and viral hepatitis in the prison system; and promote technical cooperation among countries in regard to the policies of control of HIV infection in the prison system and among people deprived of freedom.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organization are co-sponsoring organizations of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). UNODC is the lead agency of the United Nations for HIV prevention among drug users and people living in deprivation of freedom. The Office is also responsible for providing a response to HIV and AIDS in the contexts of vulnerability to human trafficking.

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