Nigeria: HIV Rate Among Nigeria Prisoners Double That of General Population - UN Study

People in Nigerian prisons are two times more likely to be living with HIV than people in the general community, a new study has revealed.

According to a National HIV Assessment Study, HIV among inmates of Nigerian prisons is 2.8 per cent, compared to 1.4 per cent reported in the general population.

The study was conducted by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and led by the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA).

The Nigerian Prisons Service, the Federal Ministry of Health, Heartland Alliance International, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) all cooperated in the study.

According to a statement issued by UNODC on Thursday, the study covered 12 prisons across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

A total of 2,511 people in prisons were said to have participated in the study.

The finding indicates that HIV prevalence is more than twice higher among women with 6.9 per cent.

"Although Nigeria appears to be edging closer to controlling the HIV epidemic, people in Nigerian prisons are two times more likely to be living with HIV than people in the community," the statement said..

"The study which is a segment component of the broader Nigeria HIV and AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), was conducted among 2,511 people in prison with the aim to provide reliable data on prevalence of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as well as on the availability of health services in prisons.

"According to the study, the prevalence in prisons was 2.8% compared to 1.4% in the general population. Covering twelve prisons across the six geopolitical zones of the country, the finding indicates that HIV prevalence is more than twice higher among women (6.9%). Generally, older people are more likely to live with HIV and tuberculosis and close to 1 out of 6 women aged 45 years or older is living with HIV.

"Among the study population, 28% of women and 76% of men reported that consensual sex happened while in prison.

"Injecting drug use is another high-risk factor and the study estimated that 2.5% of people in prisons inject drugs.

"This figure is up to 25 times higher than in the general population, according a recent UNODC survey on drug use in Nigeria.

"HIV and tuberculosis prevalence differ by regions. Prisons in the North Central region had the highest HIV prevalence (7.1%) while prisons in the Southern regions had the highest positive tuberculosis cases, with 71% in South-South region and 63% in South-East region.

"Implementing prevention interventions in prison setting appear crucial, as well as improving the availability and quality of health services.

"Less than 66% of the respondents reported the availability of HIV testing, hepatitis prevention and treatment, sexual and reproductive health services and any harm reduction services. Only 37% of respondents were satisfied with the quality of services received at the prison health facility."

According to the statement, the Country Representative, UNAIDS, Erasmus Morah said there is a need to carry everyone along in order to achieve the 2030 goal.

"Keeping communities at the centre of the HIV response, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, such as people in prisons and other closed settings, is among the surest ways for Nigeria to leave no one behind in ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030," he said.

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