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HIV and HCV in prisons: From evidence to action. Firenze, ICAR 2011, 27 March 2011 Ralf Jürgens, Canada. Acknowledgements. Annette Verster & Andrew Ball (WHO) Peer reviewers UNODC, UNAIDS. Background.

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hiv and hcv in prisons from evidence to action

HIV and HCV in prisons: From evidence to action

Firenze, ICAR 2011, 27 March 2011

Ralf Jürgens, Canada

  • Annette Verster & Andrew Ball (WHO)
  • Peer reviewers
  • HIV rates in prisons & pre-trial detention are much higher than in the community outside prisons
  • Even where HIV rates remain low, HCV rates are high – often exceeding 50%
  • Very high co-infection rates (HCV co-infection observed in more than 90% of HIV-positive prisoners in Genova)

Sources: WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS, 2007; Jürgens, Ball, Verster, 2009; Pontali , Ferrari, 2008; Dolan et al., 2007, Macalino et al., 2004, Dolan & Wodak, 1999; MacDonald, 2005; Bobrik et al., 2005; Taylor et al., 1995

hiv prevalence in selected countries
HIV prevalence in selected countries
  • Country
  • HIV Prevalence in Prisons
  • Est. Adult HIV Prevalence
  • Canada
  • 1-12%
  • 0.2-0.5%
  • USA
  • 1.9%
  • 0.4-1.0%
  • Brazil
  • 3.2-20%
  • 0.3-1.6%
  • Italy
  • 7%
  • 0.3%
  • Spain
  • Up to 14%
  • 0.4-1.0%
  • Russian Federation
  • Up to 4%
  • 0.7-1.8%
  • Viet Nam
  • 28.4%
  • 0.3-0.9%
  • Indonesia
  • 4-22%
  • 0.1-0.2%
  • Ukraine
  • 16-32% (5 regions)
  • 0.8-4.3%
background risk behaviours
Background: risk behaviours
  • Risk behaviours are prevalent in prisons
    • Consensual & non consensual sex
    • Injecting drug use
    • Tattooing
    • Sharing of razors and toothbrushes
background sexual activity
Background: sexual activity

Difficult to obtain reliable data

Methodological and ethical challenges

Sex violates prison regulations

Feelings of shame and homophobia: prisoners decline to participate in studies

Admitting to having been raped in prison goes against prisoner code

Nevertheless, evidence is clear: consensual and non-consensual sex do occur

background sexual activity1
Background: sexual activity

Africa: (Nigeria, Zambia, Mozambique): 4-5.5%

South America: 10% (Brazil)

Asia: 20% (Thailand)

Central & Eastern Europe:

Russia (9.7-12%; much higher among long-term prisoners)

Slovakia: 19% of female, 5.6% of adult male, 8.3% of juveniles

Slovenia: 19.3%

Hungary: 9%

Armenia: 2.9% penetrative (36% against their will)

Western Europe, Canada, Australia: 1-12% among males, up to 37% among females

Source: WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS, 2007

background drug use in prisons
Background: drug use in prisons

Drugs can and do enter into prisons

Many prisoners are in prison because of offences related to drugs, and find a way to use inside

Some discontinue using drugs in prisons

Other prisoners start using (and/or injecting) drugs in prison

No country has been able to stop drug use in prisons

what could happen what we can prevent
What could happen – what we can prevent

Extensive HIV transmission can occur in prisons, significantly contributing to the spread of HIV among the general population.

Thailand: HIV prevalence rate among injectors rose from a negligible percentage to over 40% between Jan & Sept 2008, fuelled by transmission of HIV in prisons.

Six studies among people who inject drugs in Thailand found that imprisonment was associated significantly with HIV infection.

what could happen what we can prevent1
What could happen – what we can prevent

Outbreaks of HIV in prisons have been documented in a number of countries, incl Scotland, Australia, Lithuania, and Russia.

In Lithuania, in May 2002 the number of new HIV-positive test results among prisoners found in a two-week period equalled all the cases of HIV identified in the entire country during all of the previous years combined.

284 prisoners (15% of the prison population) were diagnosed HIV-positive between May and August 2002.

prison conditions contribute to the problem
Prison conditions contribute to the problem

Severe overcrowding

Lack of work and meaningful activities

Decaying physical infrastructure

Lack of adequate medical care

Lack of nutritious food & clean water

Abuse & corruption

Prisoner-on-prisoner violence

public health implications
Public health implications

Health of prisoners = issue of public health concern

All people in Italy would benefit from enhancing the health of prisoners and reducing the incidence of communicable diseases

prisoners and their families

prison staff

the families outside prison

3. Communicable diseases transmitted in prison do not remain there.

interventions to address hiv in prisons
Interventions to address HIV in prisons
  • We know what works – and what does not work:
    • WHO/UNODC/UNAIDS Evidence for Action Papers: Interventions to Address HIV in Prisons

    • Jürgens R, Ball A, Verster A. Interventions to reduce HIV transmission related to injecting drug use in prison. Lancet Infect Dis2009; 9(1): 57-66
  • International expert & UN consensus since 1993: HIV & HCV prevention & treatment in prisons are essential, for public health & human rights
education and information
Education and information
  • Information & education programs result in increased knowledge (eg, Vaz, Gloyd & Trindade, 1996)
  • However, evidence of effect of increased knowledge on behaviour is limited (Braithwaite, Hammett & Mayberry, 1996)
  • Peer education is more effective (Grinstead et al, 1999)
  • Education is not enough
prevention of sexual transmission
Prevention of sexual transmission
  • Providing condoms is feasible in prison settings
  • No security problems or other negative consequences
  • Prisoners use condoms when condoms are easily and discreetly accessible - prisoners should never have to ask for condoms or seen by others when they take a condom

Source: WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS, 2007; Correctional Service Canada, 1999; Dolan, Lowe & Shearer, 2004; May and Williams, 2002; Yap et al., 2007)

prevention of sexual transmission1
Prevention of sexual transmission
  • Need for measures to combat rape and sexual abuse
    • Changing the institutional culture tolerating sexual violence
    • Multi-pronged approaches are needed:
      • Prevention efforts (prisoners education, classification, structural interventions such as better lighting, better shower and sleeping arrangements)
      • Staff training, investigation, prosecution, victim services
      • Documenting incidents
  • Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) should be available
needle and syringe programmes nsps
Needle and syringe programmes (NSPs)
  • NSPs in the community exist in most countries, including Italy
  • Studies have found NSPs
    • to be effective in reducing HIV spread
    • do not lead to increased drug use
  • First established in prisons in Switzerland in 1992
  • Since then, introduced in 12 countries in western and eastern Europe and central Asia
nsps in prisons
NSPs in prisons

Today, NSPs are operating in a growing number of countries, in all types of prisons and prison systems:

In well funded prison systems (eg, Spain, Switzerland, Germany) and severely under-funded prison systems (eg Moldova, Iran)

In institutions with drastically different physical arrangements for the housing of prisoners, from single cell to barracks

In prisons of all security classifications and sizes

In men’s and women’s institutions

evidence nsps
Evidence NSPs

(Stöver & Nelles, 2003; Stark et al., 2005; Rutter et al., 2001)

evidence nsps1
Evidence NSPs
  • No negative consequences
    • No increase in drug use or injecting
    • needles are not used as weapons
  • Increased referral to drug dependence treatment
  • Increased staff safety
how is needle exchange done
How is needle exchange done?

PNEPs utilize various methods for distributing injecting equipment

  • Hand-to-hand exchange by nurses and/or the prison physician
  • Distribution by one-for-one automated syringe dispensing machine
  • Distribution by prisoner trained as peer outreach workers
  • Distribution by external NGOs or other health professional who come into the prison for this purpose
determinants of success
Determinants of success
  • Prisoners must have confidential, easy access
  • Prisoners must have access to the type of injecting equipment they want and need
  • Support of the prison administration, staff, and prisoners is crucial (educational workshops for these groups should be part of implementation of NSPs)
  • Start with pilot project in a few prisons, monitor and evaluate, then scale up
recommendations nsps in prisons
Recommendations NSPs in prisons
  • WHO,UNODC, UNAIDS recommend:
    • Introduce NSPs urgently
    • Provide easy and confidential access to NSPs
    • Distribution through peers or NGOs
could providing nsp send out the wrong message
Could providing NSP send out the wrong message?
  • Could it be seen as “being soft” on drug use?
    • As tolerating or condoning drug use in prisons?
    • As giving up the fight against drugs in prisons?
  • No: drug use remains illegal and measures to continue fighting drugs in prisons continue
  • But the fight against HIV is equally important
  • Not taking evidence-based measures would mean condoning the spread of HIV among prisoners and ultimately to the community outside prisons
how much do nsps in prisons cost
How much do NSPs in prisons cost?

Very little – see Moldova example

Cost effective – every euro spent on prison NSP saves many euros that would otherwise have to be spent on treatment of infectious diseases

could providing bleach be enough
Could providing bleach be enough?
  • Studies have shown that providing bleach in prisons for decontamination purposes is feasible and does not compromise security
  • But: Doubts about effectiveness
    • Conditions in prisons reduce probability of effective decontamination
  • → Bleach programmes cannot replace NSPs
  • Provide information on limited effectiveness
  • Continue efforts to introduce NSPs
is providing nsps enough
Is providing NSPs enough?

NSPs are important component of efforts to reduce risk of HIV through injecting

But alone they are not enough to eliminate the risk

Effective, evidence-based drug dependence treatment is also needed, in particular methadone maintenance treatment (MMT)

evidence mmt in prisons
Evidence: MMT in prisons
  • MMT is available in growing number of countries and is most effective treatment for opioid dependence
    • reduced used of opioids, reduced mortality, reduced HIV risk behaviours, reduced criminal activity
  • MMT in prisons is feasible and effective
    • most important benefit: reduced injecting drug use and associated needle sharing, if correct dose & length of treatment
evidence mmt in prisons1
Evidence: MMT in prisons
  • Additional proven benefits of MMT in prison, for prison systems, society, and prisoners:
    • facilitates entry and retention in post-release treatment
    • decreases re-incarceration
    • positive effect on institutional behaviour
    • helps reduce risk of overdose upon release
  • No negative side effects:
    • no problems for security & no violent behaviour
    • risk of diversion has been successfully addressed
recommendations mmt in prisons
Recommendations: MMT in prisons
  • WHO, UNODC & UNAIDS recommend:
    • introduce and scale up MMT urgently in prisons
    • ensure that those on MMT in the community can continue MMT upon arrest and imprisonment
nsp mmt learning from spain
NSP & MMT: Learning from Spain
  • Spain introduced and scaled up both MMT and NSPs
  • This has resulted in significant decreases in HIV and HCV prevalence and incidence
hiv prevalence in spanish prisons
HIV prevalence in Spanishprisons

46% of prisoners had a history of injecting drug use

could we do sth else instead of nsp mmt
Could we do sth else instead of NSP & MMT?

Other measures would not be as effective

Drug interdiction efforts are very costly

They only reduce, but do not completely eliminate drug use in prisons

drug demand supply reduction measures
Drug demand & supply reduction measures
  • Some systems have vastly expanded drug interdiction measures (drug dogs, modern drug detection analysis, urinalysis, “drug-free units”, etc)
  • Drug use has remained high
  • Improving documentation & evaluation of these measures should be a priority
  • Prison systems with drug testing programs should reconsider testing for cannabis
hiv in prisons other necessary steps
HIV in prisons: other necessary steps
  • Pro-actively offer (and recommend) HIV and HCV testing
  • Ensure uninterrupted treatment
  • Reduce overcrowding & improve prison conditions
  • Provide work & other meaningful activities for prisoners
hiv in prisons other necessary steps1
HIV in prisons: other necessary steps
  • Provide non-custodial alternatives for people convicted of offences directly related to their drug dependence (possession of amounts for personal use or petty crimes committed to support drug use)

“Governments may … wish to review their penal admission policies, particularly where drug abusers are concerned, in the light of the AIDS epidemic and its impact on prisons.” (WHO, 1987)

conclusion from evidence to action
Conclusion: From evidence to action

All prisoners have the right to receive … preventive measures equivalent to [those] available in the community” (WHO, 1993)

  • Time to move from evidence to action in Italy: access to condoms, NSPs, MMT, voluntary HIV & HCV testing & treatment, as part of comprehensive HIV & HCV strategy for prisons and pre-trial detention, is urgently needed for prisoners