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Frerichs, R.R.  Prison-based HIV/AIDS education programs

SEA-AIDS Network, January 23, 1997

Posted in response to:

SEA-AIDS, January 19, 1997

From Rachel Sacks, PDA, Bangkok, Thailand

I am seeking information on prison-based HIV/AIDS education programmes and support groups for positive people. I'm working in Bangkok, where I've been contacted by an inmate who would like to initiate a peer-led programme, and I've had a terrible time trying to find out about any such programmes in Bangkok, Thailand, or the region.

Any information would be greatly appreciated - whether from Thailand, the region, or beyond! Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Rachel Sacks

HIV/AIDS Planning Liaison

Population & Community Development Association (PDA)

8 Sukhumvit 12

Bangkok 10110 Thailand

R.R. Frerichs Posting

Rachel Sacks asked about information on prison-based HIV/AIDS education programs and support groups for those infected with the virus. Unfortunately, there have not been many articles on this topic published in the international literature. Few countries have come to grips with whether HIV-infected prisoners have a right to have intimate contact with others that might lead to sexual or blood transmission, and if the virus is spread within a prison setting, who is responsible? Should a cell-mate be warned that in the next bed is an HIV-infected person or should everyone be told only that anal sex is to be avoided? Should wives (the largest group) or husbands of HIV infected prisoners be told of the infection, or is it their responsibility to find out for themselves? Until many of these issues are resolved, few people with HIV will routinely be identified in prisons, unless of course they have the signs and symptoms of AIDS.

Once prison officials accept that disclosure is the right thing to do, then the type of support and care programs that Ms. Sacks asked about become essential. I am not sure about the situation in Thailand, either regarding prison testing or how prisoner would know which peers to counsel. Nevertheless I wish her well in this important effort and am enclosing a few references that might be of help.

  1. Dixon PS, et al. "Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus in prisoners: meeting the health care challenge." Am J Med 1993 Dec;95(6):629-35.

  2. Lee JT. "Sexual behaviour of male inmates of a detention facility in Singapore: risks of intraprison human immunodeficiency virus transmission." Ann Acad Med Singapore 1995 Sep;24(5):685-90.

  3. Polonsky S et al. "HIV prevention in prisons and jails: obstacles and opportunities." Public Health Rep 1994 Sep-Oct;109(5):615-25.

  4. CDC. "HIV prevention in the U.S. correctional system, 1991" MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1992 Jun 5;41(22):389-92, 397 [published erratum appears in MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1992 Jun 12;41(23):415]