Australian prisons in danger of HIV epidemic: experts

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VietnamNet English - 37 month(s) ago 3 readings

Prisoners and health experts on Saturday told national broadcasting network ABC News that they are concerned of a looming HIV epidemic in Australia's prisons.

Prisoners and health experts on Saturday told national broadcasting network ABC News that they are concerned of a looming HIV epidemic in Australia's prisons.

The warning came following a test report undertaken in August showed that 40 percent of inmates at a correctional center in Canberra of Australia tested positive to Hepatitis C.

According to the head of the Alcohol and Drug Service based at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, Alex Wodak, roughly 25 percent of Australia's prison population are injecting drugs, and he is concerned about the risk of an HIV explosion in Australia originating in prisons.

"Were Australia to have an epidemic of HIV beginning among people who inject drugs, it is almost certain that it would begin in one of our prisons. So we are very exposed to this risk," he told ABC News on Saturday.

The Australia Capital Territory state government has proposed a trial prison needle exchange program in Canberra's correctional center, and Paul Cubitt, who currently works at the Alexander Maconochie Center in Canberra, said he has never seen so many syringes in a jail.

"Under a controlled regime it will actually take those needles that currently exist within a correctional center out of the environment, and prisoners will be more willing to use a clean item under a level of anonymity which then protects them and protects staff," he said.

Meanwhile, The Community and Public Sector Union 's national secretary, Nadine Flood, agrees action must be taken to curb prisoner drug use.

Dr Wodak noted that prison needle exchange programs have been operating overseas for over a decade with ten countries provide inmates with clean needles, and said it is shameful Australian prisons are lagging behind.

VietNamNet/Xinhuanet

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