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ABUJA (PUNCH) -- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has released a study indicating that HIV among inmates of Nigerian prisons was 2.8 per cent, compared to 1.4 per cent reported in the general population.
The Country Representative of UNODC in Nigeria, Dr. Oliver Stolpe, noted that the study was conducted in partnership with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, the Nigerian Prisons Service and Heartland Alliance International.
Stolpe added that financial support was also provided by the United Nations, the European Union and the US Agency for International Development.
A total of 2,511 people in prisons were said to have participated in the study which majority were male (92 per cent). About 50 per cent of the respondents were reportedly aged 25 to 35 years, 95 per cent were Nigerians and about two-fifths had secondary level education.
Seventy-five per cent of the respondents were said to have been employed prior to being incarcerated and about two-thirds were single. The study reportedly covered 12 prisons across the six geopolitical zones.
Stolpe stated, “I couldn’t think of a more appropriate day to launch this study bearing in mind that today is Nelson Mandela Day, this the day on which we do not only recall the immense contributions of the greatest heroes of our times but also have an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, otherwise known as the Nelson Mandela Rules.
“These rules dedicate an entire chapter to the rights of prisoners to adequate health care (Rules 24-35). More specifically, Rule 24 states that ‘health care for prisoners is a state responsibility’ and that ‘prisoners should enjoy the same standards for health care that are available in the community.’
“The study, which we are presenting today, concluded that HIV prevalence among people in prisons was 2.8 per cent, which is double the rate within the general population — 1.4 per cent. The distribution between males and females follows a similar pattern as that of he general population, in which HIV prevalence was higher among women than among men.”
According to the report, HIV prevalence was 6.9 per cent among female prisoners and 2.7 per cent among males.
The report also found that HIV prevalence was highest among those with no formal education (3.8 per cent) and among those older than 45 years old (8.1 per cent).
By geopolitical zone, HIV prevalence was reported to have been lowest in prisons located in the North-East region (1.4 per cent) and highest in the North-Central region (7.1 per cent).
HIV prevalence in other regions were 2.2 per cent in the South-South, 2.6 per cent in the North-West, 2.8 per cent in the South-West and 3.9 per cent in the South-East.
The study also stated, “While 4 per cent reported to have engaged in consensual sex with other people in prisons, over 70 per cent reported that consensual sex between people in prisons occurred and this was higher among males (76 per cent) than females (28 per cent).
“Also, 60 per cent of the respondents indicated that sex was being offered for goods and services and this was reported to be higher among male prisoners (64 per cent) than females (12 per cent).
“Overall, positive Tuberculosis screening was 46 per cent and this was similar for both male and females. Positive TB screening was higher among older people in prisons compared to younger ones. By geopolitical zone, it was lowest in the North-East (17 per cent) and highest in the South-South (71 per cent).”
The results for positive TB screening in others zones were 21 per cent (South-West), 36 per cent (North-West), 41 per cent (North-Central) and 63 per cent (South-East).
“Both injecting and non-injecting drug use were reported by people in prisons. About 50 per cent of respondents had a lifetime history of use of cannabis compared to 11 per cent among the general population.
“For non-medical use of opioids, it was 16 per cent among people in prisons compared to five per cent among the general population. The most common drugs used in prison were cannabis and opiates.
“Estimated population of people who inject drugs in prisons is as about 2.5 per cent compared to 0.05 per cent among the general population. About two per cent of respondents reported initiating injecting drug use in prisons,” the study added.