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Researchers Recommend Continuous Administering Of PrEP Drugs To Inmates :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Researchers Recommend Continuous Administering Of PrEP Drugs To Inmates

Doctor Jonathan Kitoonsa, a researcher at the Medical Research Council/ Uganda Virus Research Institute (MRC/UVRI) says there is an urgent need to eliminate all risks of HIV spread among populations in prison facilities, to reduce the apparent HIV prevalence burden.
Filed photo of inmates

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The government has been urged to allow for universal and continuous access to Pre-exposure Prophylaxis-PrEP drugs in prison facilities to heighten HIV prevention interventions among inmates. 

Doctor Jonathan Kitoonsa, a researcher at the Medical Research Council/ Uganda Virus Research Institute (MRC/UVRI) says there is an urgent need to eliminate all risks of HIV spread among populations in prison facilities, to reduce the apparent HIV prevalence burden.  

The 2023 HIV status reports by the Uganda Aids Commission indicate that HIV prevalence among inmates is higher than the national average of 5.8%. It highlights that among the general population of inmates in various prison facilities, the HIV prevalence stands at 15%, with 13% and 11% among female and male inmates respectively. 

The reports also indicate that some of the inmates are variously exposed to risks and acquire the virus while in detention.   

Meanwhile, Dr. Kitonsa says it is high time the government considered making deliberate efforts to mitigate the risks of the spread of the virus among the inmates as it does to the general population.  

He recommends that all prisoners are allowed access to pre-exposure prophylaxis-prEP and probably Post-Exposure Prophylaxis-PEP pills that can potentially safeguard them from acquiring the virus even when they are exposed to the different risk factors that include among others social habits.  

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He explains that inmates can be initiated on PrEP for as long as they remain exposed to HIV risk factors in prisons, which enables them to build immune resistance against the virus to prevent it from establishing in the body.

However, Frank Baine Mayanja, the Spokesperson of the Uganda Prison Services in his recent interactions with the Health Journalists Network-Uganda, downplayed the possibility of providing PrEP and PEP to prisoners over fears that it could promote homosexuality in the prison facilities. 

According to him, all inmates are tested on admission into prisons, and those who test positive are given HIV treatment, but some inmates are brought in during the virus incubation period, hence manifesting after some time. 

He however indicates that their medical teams continuously engage with the inmates to ensure that they are guided on how to live responsibly and adhere to treatment.