Recent Study To Provide Basis for HIV/AIDS Program in Thai Prisons, Global Fund Proposal
A recent study about HIV/AIDS in Thailand's prisons is providing the basis for the country's correction department's plans to address the issue and for a proposal to the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for an AIDS prison program, the Bangkok Post reports. The study, which was conducted by the country's Department of Corrections, the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime and Family Health International, included interviews with wardens and prison operators about behaviors in the jails related to increased risk for HIV transmission. The corrections department recently announced that there are 740 known AIDS cases among the 160,000 prisoners in 136 jails, but the country's Bureau of AIDS, TB and STIs estimates there are about 4,800 cases. In addition, "it is nearly impossible to get comprehensive" HIV prevalence data among prisoners because HIV tests can be given only if a prisoner voluntarily requests one, the Post reports. "No one has numbers," Patrick Brenny, UNAIDS country coordinator for Thailand, said, adding, "What the real story is and its significance in terms of size and scope of [the] problem, no one really knows. There is a good chance HIV transmission is happening in prisons, and there is a good chance more is coming out than is going in" (Bangkok Post , 10/29). Each of the country's prisons has an ambulatory medical unit that provides inmates with medical care -- including HIV testing, treatment and counseling. Prisoners in Thailand because of the country's commitment to universal health care access have access to the same services available to the public. Nipa Ngamtrairai, a public health officer with the corrections department specializing in AIDS-related issues, said the department is limited in its ability to provide care, especially counseling that accompanies HIV testing (Bangkok Post , 10/29). Many experts said that condom distribution in prisons also needs to be expanded. Corrections officials said that about 100 condoms per month are used in the country's jails. In addition, according to Nipa, Thai prisons are unlikely to implement needle-exchange programs to curb HIV transmission among injection drug users, but the corrections department might provide bleaching materials and boost sterilization education among inmates (Bangkok Post , 10/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.