The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Asia Bureau concentrates efforts on condom provisions as a structural intervention to reduce HIV and STI transmission in prisons.
Condom provision is one of the most effective harm reduction interventions to control HIV/AIDS and STIs in prisons. Yet, only 58 countries around the world provide persons deprived of liberty (PDL) with condoms. “Having access to high-quality healthcare services including condom provision is not only a right of PDL for health, but is also a move towards achieving the sustainable development goal of leaving no one behind,” said Dr. Sarath Chhim, AHF Asia Bureau Chief.
AHF Philippines supports Cebu City Jail through its partner Cebu City Health Office/Social Hygiene Clinic, to provide HIV and syphilis testing, HIV treatment, and condoms to PDL. As of October 2022, AHF Philippines distributed 7,259 condoms and 6,477 lubricants through 20 dispensers. The condom and lubricant dispensers were installed in areas most accessible to PDL and timely refilled by the Health Service Unit. “We also take this opportunity to conduct group activities to educate and promote safety on matters related to sexual health for PDL as well as jail staff,” said Nenet L. Ortega, Country Program Manager, AHF Philippines. In addition, due to the lack of clean water during the COVID-19 pandemic, AHF also provided bottled water for PDL who need to take regular medication for HIV and TB.
AHF Vietnam has officially delivered condoms in happiness rooms in 22 prisons since June 2022. This is successful mobilizing to get the support from the Police Department who administers prisons, compulsory education institutions, and reformatory schools (C10) – Public of Security. Prisoners with a good record of rehabilitation can spend the night in the happiness rooms with their spouse and must sign a voluntary commitment to use condoms to prevent HIV and STIs. As of October 2022, AHF Vietnam installed 15 condom dispensers and provided a total of 3,511 condoms at the happiness rooms in the prisons. “We plan order more condom dispensers with suitable sizing. Our team in Vietnam will visit each prison to set up the condom dispensers in a good location in each happiness room,” said Nguyen Thi Thu Hang, Country Program Director, AHF Vietnam.
Evidence from the evaluation of the long-term effects of condom provision in prisons showed that: in case of availability, condoms are more likely to be used during sex among PDL, availability of condoms did not increase sex in prisons, and condom provisions leads to decreases in the prevalence of HIV and STIs among PDL.
Since over 90% of prisoners will eventually return to the community, the benefits of such interventions will go beyond prison walls. To mitigate the burden of HIV and STIs in prisons, PDL must have access to high-quality condom provision programs in prisons.
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