16 October 2014 - The global message on tackling HIV and AIDS is clear- no one should be left behind. However, 30 million men and women spend time in prisons every year and are often overlooked in national strategies and global commitments; the time to turn the HIV tide in prison is pressing. Such a response must also include prison staff and should pay special attention to women in prisons.
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov opened today in Vienna the Global Consultation on HIV Prevention, Treatment, Care and Support in Prison Settings. The meeting, addressing the HIV needs of the prison population and staff, is part of UNODC's work to ensure that efforts are intensified globally to tackle the large gaps and disparities existing in the HIV response in prisons.
Mr. Fedotov, referring to the urgent necessity to address comprehensively HIV and the broader health needs of staff and prisoners said "Health in prison is a right guaranteed in international law, as well as in international rules, guidelines, declarations and covenants. Prisoners should have access to medical treatment and preventive measures without discrimination on the grounds of their legal situation." He underlined the need to foster and strengthen collaboration and integration among all stakeholders, including ministries of health and other ministries with responsibilities in prisons, as well as civil society and community-based service providers.
The Global Consultation brought together participants from twenty-seven countries worldwide, civil society organisations and UN agencies, and provided a forum for participants to exchange their experiences. The meeting was also a showcase for good practices in the development and implementation of programmes to tackle HIV in prisons, as well as a platform to identify common challenges and solutions.
The meeting's sessions saw participants from Kyrgyzstan, South Africa, Iran and Zambia share their experience in implementing services included in the Comprehensive Package of Interventions for HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care in Prison Settings, launched by UNODC, ILO, UNDP, WHO and UNAIDS in 2013. The package is a set of fifteen key recommended interventions that are essential for effective HIV prevention, treatment and care in closed settings.