Interventions to address HIV in prisons: Effectiveness of interventions to address HIV in prisons

Evidence for action technical paper

10 June 2007

Effectiveness of interventions to address HIV in prisons

HIV hit correctional facilities early and hit them hard. The rates of HIV infection among prisoners in many countries are significantly higher than those in the general population. Examples include countries in Western and Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Hepatitis C (HCV) seroprevalence rates in prisons are even higher than HIV rates. While most of the prisoners living with HIV or AIDS in prison contract their infection outside the institutions before imprisonment, the risk of being infected in prison, in particular through sharing of contaminated injecting equipment and through unprotected sex, is great. Coincident with the emergence of HIV, many countries were experiencing a significant increase in the incarcerated population. In 2003, experts estimated that 8.75 million people were incarcerated worldwide, with more than half of these in the United States, China, and Russia. The prison population in many countries increased significantly beginning in the 1990s. Each of these two “epidemics” – HIV and incarceration – has affected the other.