Australian Study Finds Treatment Could Stop Spread of AIDS in Jail
June 3, 2003
Australian researchers have produced evidence that antiviral drug treatment for people exposed to HIV in jail could prevent them from becoming infected. Post-exposure prophylaxis, or combination treatment in the 72 hours after exposure to HIV, is already available to members of the public if they are deemed at high risk by a specialist doctor.
The study, "Hepatitis C Transmission and HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis after Needle- and Syringe-Sharing in Australian Prisons," was published in the Medical Journal of Australia (2003;178:546-549). It involved a 14-month follow-up of inmates who had shared injecting equipment with two prisoners infected with HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B in two jails. Thirty-four prisoners who had been potentially exposed to HIV were given preventive treatment. None developed antibodies to HIV over the duration of the study, indicating they had escaped infection.
One of the study's authors, Andrew Grulich, associate professor at the National Center in HIV Epidemiology at the University of New South Wales, said the study showed post-exposure treatment for HIV could help contain the spread of AIDS in jail. "Specific guidelines for the use of PEP in prisons should be developed by correctional health services to improve the administration of PEP in the prison setting," he said. Grulich said the major barriers to the introduction of PEP in prison are the high cost of the drugs, which came to more than $1,000 for four weeks treatment, and significant side effects. It is also difficult to monitor prisoner compliance with the treatment because of their mobility through the prison system, courts and the community.
Australian Associated Press
06.01.03; Judy Skatssoon
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.