National HIV Assessment: People in Nigerian prisons are twice more likely to live with HIV

HIV prevalence in Nigerian prisons is twice higher than in general population, according to an assessment conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), under the leadership of the National Agency for the Control of Aids, and in cooperation with the Nigerian Prisons Service , the Federal Ministry of Health, Heartland Alliance/USAID and UNAIDS. Results show that HIV prevalence in prisons is 2.8%, comparing to 1.4% in the general population.

2 511 people in prisons participated in this study, a segment of the broader Nigeria HIV and AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) which aims to provide reliable data on prevalence of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and Hepatitis B as well as on the availability of health services in the country.

Covering twelve prisons across the six geopolitical zones of the country, the assessment indicates that although over 90% of people in prisons are men, HIV prevalence is more than twice higher among women (6.9%). Generally, older people are more likely to live with HIV and tuberculosis and close to 1 out of 5 women aged 45 years or older is HIV positive.


Women in prison are particularly vulnerable and face significant risk of contracting HIV through unprotected sex and high risk sexual behavior: only 26% of them declared consensual sex, in comparison to 76% among men who are more likely to offer sex for goods and services.

The use of injecting drugs is another high risk factor and the study estimates that 2.5% people in prisons inject drugs. This figure is 50 times higher than in the general population, according to a recent UNODC survey on drug use in Nigeria.

HIV and tuberculosis prevalence differ by regions. The North Central region prisons present the highest HIV prevalence (7.1%) while southern regions face worrying positive tuberculosis screening, with 71% in South South and 63% in South East.


Implementing prevention interventions in prison settings appear crucial, as well as improving the availability and quality of health services. Indeed, less than 66% of the respondents reported the availability of HIV testing, hepatitis prevention and treatment, sexual and reproductive health services and any harm reduction services. Only 37% of respondents were satisfied with the quality of services received at the prison health facility.

A co-sponsor of the  Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), UNODC is the convening agency for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support among people who use drugs and ensures access to comprehensive HIV services for people in prisons.

The  UNODC global HIV programme supports countries to achieve universal access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services for people who use drugs and for people in prisons. UNODC supports governments and civil society organisations to implement large-scale and wide-ranging evidence-informed and human rights-based interventions.

Our work is aligned to the  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in particular SDG target 3.3 to end AIDS by 2030 and the  UNAIDS Fast-Track Strategy 2016-2021 that calls for a 75 per cent reduction of new HIV infections including among people who inject drugs by 2020.