Prisoners are disproportionately affected by HIV and other blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis C. They need access to testing and treatment, but also tools for prevention and risk reduction while they are in prison.
We have produced a best practice framework for tackling blood-borne viruses in prisons, for people who have responsibility for the health and wellbeing of prisoners.
We developed this guidance after a survey we conducted with the Prison Reform Trust found many prisoners did not have appropriate access to condoms, disinfecting tablets, clean needles or healthcare information and so were not able to protect themselves from HIV if injecting drugs or having unprotected sex whilst in prison.
Priorities for change
Access to condoms in UK prisons is variable and often poor, and condoms are not available at all in prisons in Northern Ireland. We're calling for improved and easy access to condoms in prisons across the UK and specifically for condoms to be made available in Northern Ireland prisons.
UK prisons do not offer clean needles to allow prisoners who are injecting drugs or tattooing to protect themselves from HIV infection. Although needle exchanges have been successfully introduced in prisons in other countries in Europe, the UK Government is unwilling to introduce without UK specific evidence. We want to see a prison needle exchange pilot in the UK to establish the benefits of providing clean needles where they are needed.
In 2013 NAT made a submission to the first Commission on Sex in Prison in England. Our evidence was highlighted in this first set of findings, which focussed on consensual sex amongst male prisoners.
Download hereHIV and Hepatitis in UK Prisons: Addressing prisoners' healthcare needs 2005
Download hereTackling Blood-Borne Viruses in Prisons: A framework for best practice in the UK (2011)