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International News

United Kingdom: Call for Free Condoms to Combat Spread of HIV in Prisons

November 16, 2005

On Monday, the Prison Reform and National AIDS trusts released a report finding significant gaps in efforts to control already high rates of HIV and hepatitis C among inmates throughout the UK prison system.

Though rates of hepatitis C and HIV are 20 times and 15 times higher respectively in prisons than in the public, the report's survey of prison health care managers found that one-third of prisons had no HIV policy; one-fifth had no hepatitis C policy; and more than half had no sexual-health policy.

In April 2006, Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is scheduled to assume complete responsibility for providing prison health care. The agency has pledged to provide a level of care equivalent to that provided to the non-incarcerated community.

"Courts sentence people to custody not to inadequate health care, but the prison population is marked by poor health," said Juliet Lyons, director of Prison Reform Trust. "It is time the NHS developed good, well-resourced policy and practice to tackle blood-borne disease in prison. Anything else would amount to double punishment and lead to public health risk."

Among other items, the report recommends that prisons:

  • Conduct regular, anonymous blood tests to help establish accurate data for HIV and hepatitis C infections.

  • Offer free, accessible male and female contraceptives, which is already done in Scottish prisons, to help control STDs.

  • Promote a "lower-risk" drug campaign, methadone programs and a system of needle exchange in order to reduce blood-borne diseases.

Back to other news for November 16, 2005

Adapted from:
The Guardian (London)
11.14.05; Eric Allison; Paul Lewis

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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