AIDS-Related Prison Deaths Increasing in South Africa
Overcrowding, an increase in the number of HIV-positive prisoners and a "high incidence" of rape have increased AIDS-related prison deaths in South Africa, causing a 584% growth in nonviolent prison deaths since 1995, Agence France-Presse reports. Judge Johannes Fagan in an interview with AFP said that natural deaths in prisons rose from 186 in 1995 to 1,087 in 2000. "The results of post-mortems show that most of these deaths were caused by ... AIDS-related diseases," he noted. "We project, based on the past five years, that the number of deaths (from AIDS) will rise to 7,000 prisoners a year in five years time and to 45,000 in 10 years time -- unless treatment is administered or a cure is found," Fagan added. Correctional Services Ministry spokesperson Andrew Aphane said that 3,000 of South Africa's 162,000 prisoners are HIV-positive, but that those are "only the known cases," and officials "suspect [that] the incidence is higher." Although the correctional services department distributes free condoms in prisons, the agency does not conduct mandatory testing. Aphane said that the agency was working on "finalizing a policy for treatment of prisoners with HIV/AIDS," but that the details could not yet be revealed (Agence France-Presse, 4/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.