Condom Distribution Programs, Conjugal Visits Could Slow Spread of HIV in Caribbean Prisons, Official Says
Establishing condom distribution programs in Caribbean prisons and allowing conjugal visits for married prisoners could help reduce sex among inmates and slow the spread of HIV, Marcus Day, adviser to the Association of Caribbean Heads of Corrections and Prison Services, said recently, AFP/Google.com reports.
Day called on prisons in the region to implement condom distribution programs, despite concerns from the religious community that such programs would promote sex between men. He also encouraged prison officials to allow married prisoners to have a private room for conjugal visits with their wives. Day said allowing conjugal visits would "greatly reduc[e]" the "desire" for prisoners to have sex with other prisoners and noted that Iran's prisons allow conjugal visits.
Day attributed the spread of HIV among prisoners to men who have sex with men while incarcerated and to rape in prisons. He added that laws against sodomy and "high levels of homophobia" in the Caribbean have prevented prison officials from considering the "scientific evidence" regarding HIV transmission.
The Caribbean in 2006 had a prison population of 102,000, according to the World Prison Population List compiled by the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College London. In addition, an estimated HIV prevalence of about 3% among male prisoners was determined from studies conducted in Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname, according to Day. In addition, the lack of infectious-disease monitoring protocols in prisons and some prisoners' refusal to be tested for HIV have made it difficult to assess the situation. According to UNAIDS, an estimated 500,000 people in the Caribbean are living with HIV/AIDS (AFP/Google.com, 6/11).