Overcrowding in Russian Prison System Facilitates Spread of Tuberculosis, HIV, Report Says
Overcrowding in Russia's prison system facilitates the spread of tuberculosis and HIV, according to a report presented yesterday to a Council of Europe envoy on his departure for a tour of the country's prison system, Agence France-Presse reports (Loginova, Agence France-Presse, 7/23). In April, Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Russian Health Ministry's AIDS Prevention and Treatment Center, said that Russia has reported 235,000 HIV/AIDS cases, but the actual number of cases could be between 700,000 and 1.5 million, including about 37,000 prison inmates (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/18). Some temporary detention centers are filled to 200% capacity. The Helsinki-Moscow Group, a human rights organization, with funding from the European Commission, compiled the report in May with the help of local advocates in Russia's 89 regions. The group inspected 117 penitentiary establishments, including 74 work camps, 41 preliminary detention centers and two prisons. The group gave the report to Michel Hunault, the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly prison rapporteur, at the beginning of an investigative tour of the country's facilities. More than 86,000 of Russia's 877,000 inmates -- about one in 10 -- have TB, according to data released in January. Due to inadequate treatment, about 30% of those inmates have developed or been infected with drug-resistant forms of the disease, the report found. In addition, Russian prison authorities often discriminate against HIV-positive people and keep them in "exaggerated isolation," the report said (Agence France-Presse, 7/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.