Experts from 22 countries discuss how to effectively track epidemiological trends and service availability regarding PMTCT in prison settings
23 November 2020 – Vienna: On 17-18 November, over 55 experts in HIV and health, the criminal justice system, epidemiology and M&E, as well as representatives of ministries, UN partners and academia, came together in a virtual expert group meeting to discuss the development of tools for monitoring epidemiological trends in mother-to-child transmission of HIV in prison and the availability of services to prevent such transmission.
Data on the health of people in prison are often missing from public health data, with information on the health of incarcerated women lacking in particular. Because of this, women in prison often do not receive adequate or gender-specific care, including for their sexual and reproductive health and for HIV and other infections. Alternatively, any care they do receive might not be visible to governments, civil society organisations and the public.
“As a consequence, the risk of women transmitting HIV to their child in a prison setting remains unacceptably high“, states Miwa Kato, Director, Division of Operations, UNODC.
The discourse focused on services required to ensure PMTCT in prison and the stakeholders needed to implement, monitor and evaluate these services. Many elements of the discussion built upon the recently published Technical Guide for PMTCT of HIV in Prisons, which provides standard operational procedures to ensure measures to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis among prison populations,
The meeting participants also discussed data required to monitor availability and access to services, and how these should be obtained. It was agreed that for meaningful data collection, the developed monitoring tools should be integrated into existing epidemiological data collection mechanisms.
“Reducing inequalities and enhancing access to HIV prevention and treatment measures can only be achieved with measures including comprehensive sexual and reproductive health-care and sustained continuity of care throughout the criminal justice system,” sums up Jon Erik Strømø, Minister Counsellor, PM of Norway to the UN Vienna.