41st PCB Meeting
Agenda 6 Report on update on HIV in prisons and other close settings
To be delivered by Musah Lumuba, Africa NGO Delegation
The NGO Delegation welcomes the report on HIV in prisons and other closed settings. The report highlights the severe inequalities, stigma and discrimination and human rights violations such as the right to health, the right to privacy or the right to dignity that people in prison face all over the world.
The report also calls our attention that as a result of discriminatory laws, policies and practices, people living with HIV and other key populations are disproportionately represented in prisons.
The overcrowding of prisons and the lack of services increase their vulnerabilities to HIV, viral hepatitis and tuberculosis infections.
Health in prisons is not only complicated by elevated risk for transmission of infectious diseases including HIV, but by limited access to health services as well.
Chair, from 14th -16th of November 2017, the PCB paid a field visit to the kingdom of Swaziland and we had a chance to visit the prisons, which are called correctional centers. We found these correctional centers to be a good model of health care delivery to prison populations. With support from PEPFAR and UNODC, they have a fully furnished and spacious health centre that provides HIV diagnosis and treatment services, including Tuberculosis and Multi-Drug Resistant tuberculosis. Lacking however, is distribution of condoms, as health staff and authorities don’t recognize that same-sex encounters do occur, which is worsened by the lack of policy that favors provision of condoms and other harm reduction interventions in prison settings.
Chair, the Report notes that HIV exists in prisons around the world and that there is scant data and information, especially on those who are infected post-arrival.
Paying attention to HIV prevention and treatment, as well other vulnerabilities like Tuberculosis due to overcrowding and Hepatitis C due to the lack of needle exchange programs, requires a fast track.
Like anyone else, people in prisons in their diversities and vulnerabilities have their fundamental human rights, including the right to health. The PCB has an obligation to ensure that the emerging and evolving needs of people in prisons and in all places of incarceration are met.
Lastly, in 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution on sustainable development goals, which among things, envisages a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination.
Mr. Chair, with the adoption of the SDGs, all countries and stakeholders pledged that no one should be left behind; unfortunately, people in prisons are among the 10/10/10.