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Some Jails Breed AIDS?

Some Jails Breed AIDS?

HIV and tuberculosis are spreading in Zambian prisons due to poor living conditions and the lack of medical care for inmates, according to three human rights organizations. Some prisoners have been detained for years in overcrowded cells -- where they are more vulnerable to HIV and TB -- before being brought to trial, reported Human Rights Watch, the Prisons Care and Counseling Association, and the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa.

"The conditions in TB isolation cells are life-threatening, yet inmates who have completed TB treatment choose to continue sleeping in the cells with prisoners with active TB because they are less crowded than general-population cells," the report says. Zambian prisons have just 14 health care workers for about 15,300 inmates, and only 15 of the 86 prisons have clinics or sick bays.

"People are dying," said Godfrey Malembeka, a former inmate and prisoner-rights activist who heads the PCCA.

HIV testing and treatment for AIDS have improved at some prisons. HIV prevalence last was measured at 27% among inmates. However, a ban on condoms in prisons makes it difficult to prevent sexual transmission of HIV, the report says.

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