HIV in prison populations

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HIV is a global phenomenon; the virus is an epidemic that has caused millions of deaths worldwide and it continuous to spread. People who are in prisons are at a higher risk of contracting HIV and spreading the virus.

In prisons around the world various rules and regulations apply. Some prisons practise health and safety regulations whereas other hardened prisons do not seem to have the same commitment. Research suggests that overcrowding of prisons has stimulated aggression and violence amongst inmates. Cases of men to men sexual activity in overcrowded prisons are also common. Using infected objects to either tattoo or used to inject drugs are also a sure way that prisoners are at a higher risk of spreading the deadly disease.

This means that prisoners are spreading the virus within prisons and should they escape or be released then they can infect other people. Studies and research has found that prisons are using health and safety measures such as distributing condoms, minimizing overcrowded prisons, supplying inmates with clean and sterile syringes and tattoo instruments. Efforts have been made in order to stop the spread of HIV in prisons.

There are some prisons however that cannot afford Antiretroviral treatment and give the prisoners basic treatment; this means that there are likely to leave prison with the virus and they can spread it within the community. As prisons cannot afford Medical Aid, cheap Hospital Plans or Life Cover for example prisoners stand a higher chance of contracting AIDS related diseases such as Tuberculosis also known as TB. TB is especially common in overcrowded prisons as the virus is airborne which will compromise HIV positive inmates’ bodies even more.

Studies have also shown the high infection rate of Hepatitis C in prisons and often prisoners are susceptible to being infected with both viruses namely HIV and Hepatitis C. There are companies that have realised the impact that Antiretroviral treatment and basic Medical treatment have on prisoners. This however does not always prove successful as prisoners are moved and they can be in and out of court which means that they do not receive continuous treatment.

As people around the world are receiving information and education about HIV and AIDS the same is being applied to people in prisons. Research also reveals that many inmates are illiterate and come from broken homes. This means that their lack of knowledge on the cause and treatment of HIV is limited. As many prisoners rely on health care they do not always trust the system which poses more of a threat to the community.

HIV and AIDS is a worldwide disease that will claim many lives but education, treatment, Medical Aid and Life Cover are factors that can minimise the spread of HIV and AIDS. This will propel prisons to institute the same practice in order to prevent the disease from spreading within prisons and eventually in the community.

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