Voluntary HIV Testing, Counseling Ordered for Prison Inmates in India’s Maharashtra State
The Bombay High Court in the Indian capital city of Mumbai on Friday ordered the Maharashtra state government to provide voluntary HIV counseling and testing to 7,000 inmates in the state's four central prisons as part of a campaign to assess HIV prevalence among inmates, the Times of India reports. Alka Deshpande, head of antiretroviral therapy at JJ Hospital, and Prakash Sabade, director of the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Organization, will assess the results of the campaign and submit recommendations on how to curb the spread of HIV in prisons.
According to health advocates, although inmates are at high risk of HIV, data on the number of HIV-positive inmates is not available. The lack of data makes HIV prevention and treatment efforts more difficult, the Times of India reports. Last year, the High Court learned of 32 HIV/AIDS-related deaths among inmates at Yerwada jail in Pune, India, between 2001 and 2006. In response, the court appointed two advocates to help address HIV/AIDS-related issues in the state's prisons, according to the Times of India. In September, about 64 Yerwada inmates were tested for HIV, eight of whom were found to be HIV-positive, according to state prosecutor Satish Borulkar (Times of India, 1/11).