Head of Prison Health Services, Dr. Henry Ndidi says prisoners are among the high risk groups to contract HIV and AIDS because of tendency of Men having sex with Men (MSM).
Dr. Ndindi made the observation on Wednesday during the National Dissemination Conference on the Legal and Policy Environment Assessment Report for HIV and AIDS in Malawi held in Lilongwe.
Making a presentation during a panel discussion Dr. Ndindi said there was evidence that MSM takes place in prisons citing a survey conducted in 2011.
“There is evidence that MSM takes place in prisons and this is supported by survey in 2011 which revealed that central prisons had a rate of 9.8 percent; medium size prisons 4.1 percent and small size prisons 3.8 percent,” said Ndindi.
He added that prohibition of condoms and lubricant distribution in prisons due to criminalization of MSM is one of the challenges faced in prisons where MSM cases are evident.
“Overcrowding, lack of basic necessities e.g. soap and food, limited access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and sexual violence are among the problems that are encouraging MSM in prisons,” said Ndindi.
He also cited other factors such as limited right to medical confidentiality due to lack or poor infrastructure, prisoners not allowed to keep any drug as per standing orders and lack of any awareness due to lack of funds as stumbling blocks in HIV and AIDS mitigation.
The Head of Prison Health Service further observed lack of HIV policy for prisoners and MSM strategy legislation.
“There is need for law reforms to be enacted to reduce human rights violations of those male prisoners who have sex with men and providing them with all prevention information and necessities,” said Ndindi ,adding that prisoners also ought to be provided with enough space, food and basic amenities so that those who do not want to practice MSM are not bought by these favors.