Judge Estimates 60% of South African Prisoners Are HIV-Positive
About 60% of the 10,000 prisoners released each month from South African prisons are HIV-positive, prison inspector Judge Johannes Fagan told the parliamentary correctional services committee yesterday, Agence France-Presse reports. The estimate is based on a "small number" of prisoners who volunteered to be tested. "It is not only sentenced prisoners who are dying. Awaiting-trial prisoners are also dying," Fagan said, noting that more than 20,000 people who pose "no threat" to society are in prison because they could not pay even low bail amounts. Keeping such people in prison is "crazy," he added, saying that the overcrowding in government prisons contributes to the spread of HIV and tuberculosis. He added that overcrowding was also "not conducive to (the) longevity of those who are HIV-positive." Last year, 1,169 prisoners died of AIDS-related illnesses but were listed as dying from "natural" causes, Fagan said. About 175,000 people are housed in South African prisons (Agence France-Presse, 5/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.