HIV infection rates high among imprisoned women

17 November 2008 - Prisons are high-risk environments for the transmission of HIV. Worldwide, the levels of HIV infection among prison populations tend to be much higher than in the population outside prisons. Both drug use and HIV infection are more prevalent among women in prison than among imprisoned men. Women in prison are vulnerable to gender-based sexual violence; they may engage in risky behaviours and practices such as unsafe tattooing, injecting drug use, and, are more susceptible to self-harm.

Women and HIV in prison settings is a crucial issue in responding to HIV and AIDS. Globally, female prisoners represent about 5 per cent of the total prison population, but this proportion is increasing rapidly, particularly in countries where levels of illicit substance use are high. In 2005, worldwide, on any given date more than half a million women and girls were detained in prisons, and three times this number will be imprisoned in the course of any given year. Despite, or perhaps because of the fact that women prisoners constitute a small proportion of the prison population, they present specific challenges for  correctional authorities.

"Women and HIV in prison settings" explains factors that make women particularly vulnerable to HIV within prisons. This new publication focuses on issues to be considered and measures to be taken for a comprehensive response to HIV in prison settings which takes into account the special needs of women in prison.


Full text of the publication (pdf).