NAC assesses sexual behaviour of prison inmates
Munyaradzi Musiiwa Midlands Correspondent
The National AIDS Council (NAC) has embarked on a survey to assess sexual behaviour of prison inmates as well as drug abuse, to ascertain whether there is HIV transmission in prisons.
Speaking during a workshop with journalists in Kwekwe, NAC research and documentation coordinator Mr Freeman Dube said NAC will also be testing inmates soon after conviction and monitor them until they are released from prison and constantly test them at three-month intervals.
He said the exercise will run for about three years.
“We are carrying out a survey in prisons to ascertain HIV transmission or lack thereof. We will also be looking at possibilities of illicit drug usage among prison inmates. We want to measure the use of drugs in prisons,” he said.
NAC Midlands provincial AIDS coordinator Mr Mambewu Shumba, who was part of the delegation that went to Lesotho to study distribution of condoms in prisons, said the survey was also meant to assess if there are new HIV infections taking place and confirm the HIV prevalence statistics in prisons.
Mr Shumba said the testing will, however, still be voluntary and inmates are not compelled.
“What will be happening is that the new inmates will undergo normal procedures of HIV testing and counselling and the voluntary aspect will not be taken away from them.
“The survey is meant to see if there are new infections taking place in prison,” he said.
Legislators, health experts and international health organisations want Government to consider distributing condoms among prison inmates, which has become a key population in the fight against HIV.
Some sections of society and certain churches are uncomfortable with the idea of distributing condoms to prison inmates as they view the move as inadvertently encouraging and acknowledging homosexuality.
The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services says HIV prevalence among inmates now stands at 27 percent.
NAC has involuntarily started recognising homosexuals in the fight against HIV.
NAC, in partnership with Global Fund, has started procuring special condoms with extra lubrication for homosexuals after they were identified as a key population in the fight against HIV and the 90-90-90 objective.