The mass incarceration of drug users has contributed to the spread of HIV, hepatitis B and C, and tuberculosis.
Mass imprisonment of drug users worldwide, as well as a scarcity of harm reduction programs, contributes to the spread of HIV, hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV, HCV) and tuberculosis (TB). Publishing their findings in a series of six papers in The Lancet, researchers examined how imprisonment affects these four epidemics.
The studies were also presented at the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa (AIDS 2016).
Annually, an estimated 30 million people worldwide spend at least some time in prison. On any given day, 10.2 million people are incarcerated (2.2 million of them in the United States), of whom an estimated 3.8 percent (389,000) are HIV positive, 15.1 percent (1,546,500) have hep C, 4.8 percent (491,500) have hep B and 2.8 percent (286,000) have TB.
“Prisons can act as incubators of tuberculosis, hepatitis C, and HIV and the high level of mobility between prison and the community means that the health of prisoners should be a major public-health concern,” lead author of the series and president of the International AIDS Society, Chris Beyrer, MD, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a press release. “Yet, screening and treatment for infectious diseases are rarely made available to inmates, and only around 10 percent of people who use drugs worldwide are being reached by treatment programmes. The most effective way of controlling infection in prisoners and the wider community is to reduce mass imprisonment of injecting drug users.”
Read Full Article: The War on Drugs Fuels the Spread of HIV, Hepatitis C and Tuberculosis – POZ
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