NGOs: HIV Rampant in Prisons in East Europe, Central Asia
February 25, 2004
On Tuesday at the HIV/AIDS conference in Dublin, nongovernmental organizations said the prevalence of HIV in East European and Central Asian prisons dwarfs the region's general infection rate, which is the fastest growing in the world. An alliance of 80 groups and experts active in European and Asian prison reform said the high rate of prison infections derives from the absence of the most basic prevention programs and governments' failure to adopt anti-HIV/AIDS measures that work.
Citing Russian government data, the group noted that out of 860,640 prison inmates in 2003, more than 35,000 -- approximately 4 percent -- had HIV, compared to a 1 percent infection rate for Russia's population as a whole, according to UN figures. High HIV/AIDS infection rates in prisons accelerate infection rates in the general population once inmates leave jail.
Only Moldova and Kyrgyzstan, according to the group, have clean- needle programs for drug-using inmates to prevent the spread of HIV. "Prisoners are often a forgotten population," said Rick Lines, executive director of Irish Penal Reform Trust and member of a broad alliance of prison-reform activists. He said prisoners were not given the same access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment as people outside prisons.
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.