November 2020, Vienna - UNODC’s newly developed Technical Guide on Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in Prisons* was recently rolled out in Nigeria, in three countries in Eastern Europe, and in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa via regional trainings on HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care for prison populations. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the most recent training, for seven countries in South East Asia, was held virtually.
The prevalence of HIV and related infections in prison is higher than in the community, yet HIV prevention, treatment and care services are often lacking in these settings. Incarcerated women have even less access to health care including for SRH compared to men in prison. If pregnancy ensues in women living with HIV, their babies are at high risk of acquiring the infection.
To support countries in including prison populations in their efforts to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV, UNODC held four Train the Trainer (TOT) workshops for 21 countries** from July 2019 to November 2020. These trainings hosted over 150 representatives of parliament, relevant ministries, civil society organisations, prison and health administrations, prison staff including health-care staff, and peer groups.
During the workshops, experts shared their knowledge on effective HIV and SRH care, including continuity of care, for women and their babies in prisons. Discussions focused on how to ensure access to PMTCT services by securing political will, investing in prison staff and resources, upholding international standards, monitoring prison health data, integrating HIV and SRH services, and crucially, how to adapt these strategies to each country’s context.
The trainings strengthened national commitments to identify and address gaps in health care provision for women in prisons. They also will support cascaded training of service providers and implementation of PMTCT in prisons, and ensure improved collaboration between prison and public health.
* The Technical Guide on PMTCT of HIV in Prisons was developed in response to Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) Res 26/2 “Ensuring access to measures for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in prisons” and is based on relevant international standards and guidelines.
** Nigeria, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Angola, eSwatini, Lesotho, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam