UNODC and UNAIDS release in Uruguay publication about HIV and AIDS in places of detention

From left to right: Franzini, Bonomi, Stella and Kmaid

Montevideo, 3 July 2013 - Uruguay's Ministry of Interior, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Joint Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) presented at the end of May the publication "HIV and AIDS in places of detention: a toolkit for policymakers, programme managers, prison officers and health care providers in prison settings". The Spanish edition of this publication is one of the activities under the Joint Project Reform of Institutions for Persons Deprived of Liberty. The presentation was also attended by Gonzalo Kmaid, Coordination Specialist of the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uruguay.

According to the Representative of UNODC's Liaison and Partnership Office in Brazil, Rafael Franzini, every year 30 million men and women all over the globe spend time in prison, where HIV and TB are the main causes of death. "The prevalence of HIV in prisons may be between two and ten times higher in the community. Therefore, UNOCD and its strategic partners within the United Nations system have been developing this group of tools to protect people deprived of liberty and prison employees against HIV infections and other diseases, while also guaranteeing access to treatment and other services", said Franzini.

Within UNAIDS framework, UNODC is the agency responsible for the prevention, care, treatment and support to people living with HIV in prisons and other places of detention. The UNAIDS Coordinator for Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, Alberto Stella, said that, in order to work on the human rights issue, it is necessary to pay close attention to the population deprived of liberty: "In Uruguay, this number may reach 9,000 people, a factor of social vulnerability similar to those which determine HIV infection; therefore, we can expect to find a significant number of people living with HIV in that population group."

The matter of HIV in people deprived of liberty is of crucial relevance, and "work such as this gives us a series of elements based on scientific evidence of how to work with that population from a human rights perspective, to assure universal access of people deprived of liberty to prevention, treatment, care and support", completed Stella.

In his presentation, the Minister of Interior Eduardo Bonomi highlighted the continuous progress in the improvement of conditions for people deprived of liberty, "in which the health care issue is a constant concern, for example, in the integration of the rehabilitation projects and programs." Bonomi pointed out that the formation and awareness programs that are being developed for employees will benefit from this publication: "I encourage the distribution of this valuable material to all employees, as well as its reading and incorporation to the capacitation curriculum of the formation school."

In the end, he said: "When we talk about combating overcrowding, hygiene care, nutrition, strict health screenings prior to admission and follow up health care, architectural design of new buildings, classification of the decrease in conflict and violence levels that determine infection risk situations, fight against corruption involving the interruption of drug entry, advertising of information about prisoners' rights and duties, and professionalization of employees and others that make up the vision of a humane prison system, of human dignity; it is through this path that we should and will keep on working."

*With information from Uruguay's Ministry of Interior

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