NCoS, FMoH, NACA, and UNODC Collaborate to Improve Sensitization on HIV/AIDS Prevention & Treatment Services in Custodial Centres in Nigeria

Abuja, 27 January, 2021-

HIV/AIDS constitutes a serious health threat for people in prisons. It presents significant challenges for prison and public health authorities alike.

A national survey conducted by National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA )and the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS )with the support of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Nigeria in 2018 found that the prevalence of HIV infection among people in custodial centres in Nigeria was 2.8% compared to 1.3% in the general population. The study showed that sharing of razors as well as paraphernalia for drug injections were not uncommon among inmates. Moreover, risk-prone sexual behaviours were also reported among people in custodial centres while at the same time awareness concerning risks related contracting HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases was comparatively low.

HIV infection can be controlled through information, education, and communication as well as access to HIV treatment, care and prevention. Therefore, UNODC in collaboration with the (NACA) and the National AIDS & STIs Control Programme (NASCP), Federal Ministry of Health developed information, education and communication (IEC) materials to support the efforts of the Nigerian Correctional Service at controlling HIV infections in custodial centres in Nigeria.  

According to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (also known as the Nelson Mandela rules), prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community, and should have access to necessary health-care services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status.

The HIV IEC materials, targeting both people in custodial centres and Correctional Service staff, were prepared in an easy to read and understandable language. They contain information about HIV modes of transmission, methods of prevention, prevention services, steps in HIV diagnosis and HIV treatment services. They will be disseminated to all custodial centres in Nigeria.

While receiving the items on behalf of the Comptroller General of the NCoS, the Assistant Comptroller General Nursing of NCoS , Helen Akpanamah, appreciated the support provided by UNODC  and pledged their continuous collaboration. She said, “we are glad to receive these educational materials on prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. We appreciate UNODC for all you have been doing with all other organisations for the Nigerian Correctional Service. We promise that these items will be put to effective use. We believe that they will go a long way in improving our knowledge and understanding of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, thereby bringing about a transformation in lifestyle.”