Protecting the Health of Prisoners and Prison Health Care Staff

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Conference
2008 National LGBT Conference
Date
25 July 2008
Decision

Men who have sex with men (MSM), gay men and bisexual men can potentially be at greater risk of sexually transmitted diseases. These risks can be further aggravated as a result of poor health standards and inconsistent awareness of safer sex practices within the prison system.

Gay men are still the group at greatest risk of acquiring HIV in the UK.

New HIV diagnoses amongst gay men are the highest ever and are continuing to rise. Twenty-five years into the UK experience of HIV, this is not good enough.

There are significantly higher rates of HIV and Hepatitis C in the prison population than in the general population. HIV rates in male prisoners are 15 times higher than those of men not in jail. Research has found that Hepatitis C levels in prisons are 20 times higher than the rate in the general public, with 9% of male inmates and 11% of women infected.

The Prison Reform Trust (PRT) and the National AIDS Trust (NAT) report ‘HIV and hepatitis in prisons:- addressing prisoners healthcare needs’ recommended male and female prisoners should be given free condoms as part of measures to halt the spread of HIV and Hepatitis in UK jails.

However a survey of prison healthcare managers found over half of prisons have no sexual health policy despite HIV and hepatitis C being commonplace.

In April 2006 responsibility for prisoners’ health transfered from prisons to the NHS.

We call upon the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Committee to work with government departments and NGO’s (Non Governmental Organisations) to lobby for a national approach and better consistency in policy and provision of the distribution of condoms in prisons in order to help protect the health of prisoners and health care staff against infection and disease.

We also support the call from PRT & NAT for better training for prison healthcare staff – to ensure that both prisoners and staff receive adequate information and education on HIV and Hepatitis C.