Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Mass imprisonment of drug users driving global epidemics of HIV, hepatitis, and tuberculosis


Public Release: 14-Jul-2016
The Lancet: Mass imprisonment of drug users driving global epidemics of HIV, hepatitis, and tuberculosis
The Lancet

  • Up to half of all new HIV infections over next 15 years in eastern Europe will stem from inmates who inject drugs
  • Scaling up opioid substitution therapy in prisons and after release could prevent over a quarter of new HIV infections among injecting drug users over 5 years

The War on Drugs, mass incarceration of drug users, and the failure to provide proven harm reduction and treatment strategies has led to high levels of HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis B and C infection among prisoners--far higher than in the general population. With an estimated 30 million people passing in and out of prisons every year, prisoners will be key to controlling HIV and tuberculosis epidemics worldwide, according to a major six-part Series on HIV and related infections in prisoners, published in The Lancet and being presented at the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.

"Prisons can act as incubators of tuberculosis, hepatitis C, and HIV and the high level of mobility between prison and the community means that the health of prisoners should be a major public-health concern. Yet, screening and treatment for infectious diseases are rarely made available to inmates, and only around 10% of people who use drugs worldwide are being reached by treatment programmes", says lead author of the Series and President of the International AIDS Society Professor Chris Beyrer, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA. "The most effective way of controlling infection in prisoners and the wider community is to reduce mass imprisonment of injecting drug users."


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