Feb 01, 2013 News
– Survey reveals
Although massive strides have been made the world over to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, health officials have been able to deduce that a number of prison inmates in Guyana are still in dire need of education.
At least this is based on the deduction of Programme Manager of the National AIDS Programme Dr. Shanti Singh when she delivered a revealing presentation at a high-level meeting which was aimed at focusing attention on health in prisons.
Having conducted an HIV/AIDS Biological Surveillance Survey (BBSS) within the prison system, Dr. Singh was able to conclude that while most of the 96.3 per cent of the respondents indicated that they had heard of HIV/AIDS, only 56 per cent were convinced that there was a difference between HIV and AIDS.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lentivirus (a member of the retrovirus family) that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is a syndrome (also a collection of symptoms/illnesses) caused by the most advanced stages of HIV infection.
Of a total of 513 inmates involved in the BBSS, HIV results were made available for 458 persons of which 434 were showed negative results and 24 were positive. The prevalence of 5.24 per cent is more than double of the overall prevalence.
Dr. Singh’s findings also revealed that one-fifth (64/328) of the participants were of the belief that mosquitoes can transmit HIV while 45 per cent (148/329) of them expressed fear that they were at risk of contracting HIV while in prison. In fact approximately 15 per cent (49/329) were of the opinion that persons can get HIV by sharing a meal with someone who is infected.
The Programme Manager’s report also revealed that 83 per cent (153/427) of the respondents had heard of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) with 35.8 per cent experiencing gonorrhea with there being a significant gender difference of males accounting for 40.2 per cent and females 10.9 per cent. There were 9.6 per cent of them (41/427) with sores on the vagina and penis.
Of a total of 513 respondents 11 (2.1 per cent) never had sex and the age of sexual debut for male respondents was 15 plus while girls were 16 plus. Twenty-nine per cent of the respondents (146/502) claimed they had sex for favours and of these only 53 per cent used a condom during these encounters.
A mere two per cent (10/502) admitted to having sex in prisons, with one claiming to have had a forced relationship. Nine were reportedly engaged in such relationships voluntary.
Condom use was reported among 69 per cent (301/502) and 29 per cent (88/303) of the respondents felt that condoms should be made available in the prisons.
It was also revealed that 57 per cent were previously tested with a greater among of women being those previously tested. However, there were also 87.8 per cent who reported that they would be willing to use a Voluntary Counseling and Testing Service.
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