Josephine Fredua-Agyemang, Ann-Marie Affainie-Godwyll and other stakeholders in a group photograph with prisons commanders
About 224 inmates, including 32 females, are reported to be battling with the dreaded HIV/AIDS in the 43 prisons across the country.
The inmates were diagnosed last year by the prisons’ authorities and have been put on an anti-retroviral drug for treatment.
Nsawam Medium Prisons recorded the highest with a total of 68 inmates, including 12 females, according to DDP Charity Araba Magusen, in-charge of Nsawam Prisons Health Centre.
In Akuse, 11 males and one female were diagnosed with the disease, while 12 were also diagnosed with the disease at Koforidua Prisons.
Most of the HIV inmates are said to be having tuberculosis as well, according to reports from the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG).
At an annual national advocacy session organised for heads of the various prisons in the country and other stakeholders in Accra, the Director of Prisons in-charge of welfare of inmates, staff and their dependants, Josephine Fredua-Agyemang, explained that inmates ignorantly indulged in risky lifestyle such as blood covenant, sharing of unsterilised skin piercing, sharp instruments, razor blades, among many others, that made them contract the disease.
According to her, reports have revealed that the practice has been the main cause of the spread of the diseases among the inmates.
“Prisons officers are often at risk of getting infected in line of duty, since most of us will agree with me that it is an undisputable fact across the globe that the nature of the prisons work renders officers and inmates vulnerable to communicable diseases, including HIV and TB infections among other factors,” Madam Fredua-Agyemang added.
She, therefore, appealed to government and other institutions for nutritional support, drugs and other resources to allow officers to discharge their duties effectively.
The Programme Manager of Global Fund, Ann-Marie Affainie-Godwyll, in an address disclosed that the inmates were diagnosed through HIV testing services and TB screening, carried out in all prisons.
She said the prisoners who tested HIV positive have been referred for evaluation and treatment in the various government hospitals.
“About 14,285 prisoners were taken through HIV testing and are aware of their status, but 13,390 have been reached with HIV prevention programmes to prevent the spread of the disease in their various cells,” Madam Affainie-Godwyll highlighted.
She, however, expressed worry about the inadequate supply of the anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs at their various referral points.
“Some of the inmates are, therefore, being treated with septrin at the prison infirmaries as a result,” she added.
Madam Affainie-Godwyll averred that some of the inmates have not been enrolled on the NHIS and, therefore, could not access treatment at the government facilities, which is a worry to the officers.
She, therefore, expressed the need to strengthen the collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in the treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) amongst prison inmates.
By Linda Tenyah-Ayettey