HIV Explosion In Prisons: Drug Users Are The Most Affected Population

On the 29th of August 2014, the Romanian Harm Reduction Network  sent a request for information under the Public Information Act 544/2001 to the National Administration of Penitentiaries. We  requested the following data: 

  • HIV prevalence in prisoners: total, men, women;
  • HIV prevalence in drug using prisoners: total, men, women;
  • HIV incidence in prisoners: total, men, women;
  • HIV incidence in drug using prisoners: total, men, women;
  • HIV mortality in prisoners: total, men, women;
  • HIV mortality in drug using prisoners: total, men, women;
  • the number of HIV tests applied on prisoners: total, men, women;
  • the number of HCV tests applied on prisoners: total, men, women;
  • the number of syringe exchange programs (SEPs) in the prison system and the number of prisoners who access each service;
  • the number of prisoners who had access to opiate substitution treatment (OST);
  • the number of condoms distributed in prisons;
  • access to hepatitis vaccines in prisons (Yes/No);
  • access to ARV treatment in prisons (Yes/No);
  • access to Hepatitis C treatment in prisons (Yes/No).

The statistics received form the National Administration of Penitentiaries show the accelerated rise in the HIV prevalence in prisoners.

HIV positive prisoners

Out of the 321 HIV positive prisoners in 2013, 271 are people who use drugs, 127 of whom were registered in 2013. As seen in the chart below, the number of new HIV positive cases per year has increased drastically between 2012 and 2013:

HIV incidence in prisons

For the first two quarters of 2014, the number of HIV positive prisoners is 330, out of which 231 are people who use drugs. The number of new cases in this span of time is 28, out of which 26 are people who use drugs.

The efficiency of needle and syringe programs (SEP) and opioid substitution therapy (OST) in reducing HIV incidence is a proven fact.

For now, only 15 prisoners have access to OST and the SEPs are available (as the National Administration of Penitentiaries tell us) “if requested” in 10 prisons:

  • the Bucharest-Jilava Penitentiary (the coordinating unit for the program);
  • the Bucharest-Jilava Hospital Penitentiary;
  • the Bucharest-Rahova Penitentiary;
  • the Bucharest-Rahova Hospital Penitentiary;
  • the Giurgiu Penitentiary;
  • the Craiova Penitentiary;
  • the Târgşor Penitentiary;
  • the Poarta Albă Penitentiary;
  • the Colibaşi Penitentiary;
  • the Colibaşi Hospital Penitentiary.

As seen  in the chart below, after 2010, the distribution of syringes dropped dramatically. We have no data for 2013.

syringes distributed in prisons

HIV testing in prisons decreased in a worrying manner:

HIV tests

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