Prisons Emerge as Hotspots for AIDS Pandemic
July 26, 2010
A toolkit to help governments prevent and treat HIV among prisoners was rolled out by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime during the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna. "Health care in prisons should be at least equivalent to that in the community," UNODC stated.
Nigeria forbids the distribution of condoms among its prison population, reported Emika Chima of the Society of Family Health. "It is prohibited because if you do that you're encouraging sodomy, that's the stance," he said. "In Nigeria, officially, same-sex practices don't exist."
Nevertheless, the Open Society Institute reported that efforts to extend HIV prevention and treatment to inmates can be very successful. A needle-exchange and methadone program introduced by Moldova in the late 1990s now reaches 75 percent of inmates, OSI said.
U.S. research suggests that care for HIV-positive injecting drug users is more effective when begun before a prisoner is released. Methadone programs initiated behind bars also were more effective than post-release referrals to such programs, research indicates.
"This isn't just about prisoners," said Brown University researcher Samuel Dickman, who conducted the study. "This is about communities prisoners return to."
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