Condom Distribution Could Help Curb HIV in Mozambican Prisons, U.N. Official Says
Distributing condoms in prisons could help curb the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among inmates and the wider community, Brian Tkachuk -- regional adviser for HIV/AIDS in African prisons for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime -- said Tuesday in Maputo, Mozambique, during a public health seminar, AIM/AllAfrica.com reports. Tkachuk said that condom distribution would protect not only inmates but also their families and communities after the inmates' release. According to AIM/AllAfrica.com, some African countries, such as Burundi and Lesotho, already distribute condoms in prisons.
Benvinda Levy, Mozambique's justice minister, on Monday said the high HIV prevalence in prisons could result from sexual relations among inmates and needle sharing for injection drug use. According to Gimo Cumba, head of the medical assistance department in the Mozambican prison service, the prison system has seen evidence of sexual relations between inmates, guards and others. He said officials have identified the issue and intend to "hold studies to understand the problem." Cumba said that condom distribution could interrupt the chain of HIV transmission; however, he added that education efforts also would be necessary to promote HIV awareness in prisons.
According to AIM/AllAfrica.com, Mozambique has no recent data on HIV prevalence in prisons. However, a 2002 study found that 30% of the country's inmate population was HIV-positive, compared with 16% of the general population between ages 15 and 49 (AIM/AllAfrica.com, 4/14).