224 prisoners test HIV positive in 2016

Participants at the donors meeting

Participants at the donors meeting

A total of 224 inmates from the 43 prisons in the country tested HIV positive last year.

The figure was made up of 192 males and 32 females.

The Programme Manager of Global Fund, a non governmental organisation, Ann-Marie Affainie-Godwyll disclosed this at the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) annual national advocacy session held in Accra.

The fund is aimed at reducing HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) infection in key populations with special emphasis on prison inmates.

She said through HIV Testing Services and TB screening carried out in all prisons,  prisoners who tested HIV positive have been referred to hospitals for evaluation and treatment.

According to her 14,285 prisoner have undergone HIV testing last year and were aware of their status, adding that 13,390 have been educated on HIV prevention to prevent the spread of the disease.

Ms Affainie-Godwyll expressed worry about inadequate supply of Anti Retroviral drugs at referral points; “Therefore many inmates are being treated with septrin at the prison infirmaries”.

She further stated that, some of the inmates have not been enrolled on the National Health Insurance Scheme therefore could not access treatment at the government health facilities.

According to him, there was the need to strengthen the collaboration with the Ghana Health Service in the treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) amongst prison inmates.

The  Director of Prisons’  Welfare of Inmates, Staff and their Dependants, Mrs Josephine Fredua-Agyemang said inmates were ignorant  of risky lifestyle, hence they indulged in vices such as blood covenant, sharing of unsterilised skin piercing instruments like razor blades.

According to her, the practice has been the cause for diseases such as HIV.

She expressed worry about the risk of officers getting infected in line of duty saying; “it is an undisputable fact across the globe that the nature of the prisons work renders officers and inmates vulnerable to communicable diseases, including HIV and TB infections among others”.

Mrs Fredua-Agyemang called on government and other institutions to provide nutritional support, drugs and other resources to allow officers to discharge their duties effectively.

She said, the Prison Service would continue to partner with PPAG and other stakeholders to develop the prison service.

By Agnes Opoku Sarpong & Priscilla Allotey.

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