HIV in Prisons and Police Actions and Law Enforcement Officers and HIV is the theme of the first GT/UNAIDS of 2015


Brasilia, 09 March, 2015 - The first 2015 UN Expanded Theme Group on HIV/AIDS (GT/UNAIDS) meeting approached, for the first time, the topic: HIV in Prisons and Police Actions and Law Enforcement Officers and HIV.

Four presentations were conducted during the meeting. Renato de Vitto, Director of the National Prison Department (DEPEN), presented an overview of the current Brazilian prison system. "We cannot take for natural the hyper-incarceration phenomenon that is happening in the country. We are the country with the world's second fastest growing incarceration rate in the past 15 years and we have the fourth imprisoned population in the world", said the Director. De Vitto also commented that people living with HIV/AIDS in the Brazilian prison system have access to the cocktail offered by Brazil's Unified Health System (SUS), however, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in prisons is still unknown. Therefore, there is a demand for the generation of information to deal properly with the situation of this population.

Later on, Dr. Francisco Neto Job, from the Prison System Health Technical Department of the Ministry of Health and, on the occasion, representing the Coordinator of the Prison System Health Technical Department, Marden Marques, made a speech on the current National Health Policy in Prisons, reflecting on the challenges of promoting health in an unhealthy environment, such as prisons. Job said that the prison population deserves special attention regarding public health strategies, and also said that the STD transmission rates are quite high in prisons, emphasizing the high rates of syphilis and HIV present in female prisons.

Following the debate, the Coordinator of the National Tuberculosis Control Program (NTCP) of the Ministry of Health, Draurio Barrier, discussed the TB/HIV co-infection in the prison system. The coordinator presented the STOP TB Partnership, which is a strategy focused on the components to control the TB/HIV co-infection and on the contribution to strengthen SUS, highlighting the need for TB control in vulnerable populations (indigenous, imprisoned people, seropositive, and people living in the streets). With the support of UNODC, the NTCP took the strategy into prisons in Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Charqueadas aiming to develop educational campaigns, and identify, diagnose and treat cases of TB in prisons.

Finally, Roberta Torres, representative of the Secretariat for Education, Assessment and Prevention of the Rio de Janeiro Security Department, gave a presentation about the Law Enforcement and HIV Network (LEAHN). During her speech, the psychologist stressed that the main goal of this network is the awareness of police institutions, law enforcement officers and preferably the police officers.

The representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Brazil, Jorge Chediek, also attended the meeting. Chediek reaffirmed the institutional commitment of the UN system with the prison agenda and he announced that, starting this year, UNODC, UNDP and DEPEN will work together in the execution and implementation of various projects related to the prison system.

The meeting was attended by representatives of other United Nations agencies, government branches, members of civil society and cooperation partners. .

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The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) assumed in December 2014 in Brasilia the presidency of the Expanded Theme Group UN on HIV/AIDS (GT/UNAIDS) for the period 2015-2016.

The GT/UNAIDS in Brazil was established in 1997. Since then, it develops actions to support and strengthen a multi-sectorial national response to the epidemic in order to achieve the goals of universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support. During its history, the GT/UNAIDS has established itself as a mechanism for coordination and joint action of the UN system in the country. The GT is today in Brazil the largest and oldest group of interagency cooperation. Unlike what happens in many other countries, the GT/UNAIDS in Brazil also incorporates bilateral agencies and members of civil society, and a set of various actors of the federal government.

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