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Mauritius: Fifth Meeting of African Partnership Network Steering Committee on HIV/AIDS in Prisons
Source: SADC Contribution
Source Date: Monday, October 22, 2012
Focus: Citizens’ Service Delivery
Country: Mauritius
Created: Oct 22, 2012

Mauritius had been selected to host the meeting in view of its achievement in the field of harm reduction and its vast experience in addressing the issue of HIV/AIDS among injecting drug users and in prison settings. The Steering Committee will discuss the work plan for the year 2012 and activities to be carried out for the prevention of HIV as well as treatment and care services to be provided to people who use drugs in prison settings. The foreign delegates will also undertake a study tour in the prisons so as to take cognizance of the community-drug treatment programmes and facilities.

In his opening address, the Commissioner of Prisons, Mr Jean Bruneau, stated that HIV and AIDS are a serious threat to prisons populations in many countries and constitute a significant challenge to prison officials, public health authorities and Governments. With a view to developing an effective and human rights-based approach, it is imperative to implement coordinated international, national and multisectoral actions, he said.

For his part, the chairperson of the AHPPN, Mr Percy Chato,  recalled that the Network aims at promoting collaborative and  inclusive and cooperation and actions and  supports Governments in their efforts to mount an effective, human rights-based response to HIV in prisons in Africa. According to him, the AHPPN rests on the concept that good prison health equals good public health, adding that a number of strategies are being put in place to promote good HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment in prison settings.

In Mauritius, the HIV/AIDS prevalence among sex workers is 28,9 %;  injecting drugs users 47,5 % and men having sex with men 8,1%. Figures reveal that at any given point in time, 25% of inmates are HIV positive. Factors such as men having sex with men, tattooing and violence in amongst prisoners contribute to make prisons a high-risk environment for transmission of HIV, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases.
 
Strategies put in place to curb the incidence of HIV transmission include: setting up of special AIDS Unit in prison; access to treatment to HIV inmates; and implementation of evidence-based action plan for HIV/AIDS for prison department. The enactment of HICV/AIDS legislation which provides, amongst others, for the elimination of all forms of discrimination towards people infected with the virus, the implementation of methadone-substitution therapy and needle-exchange programme and the development of strong partnerships with Non-governmental organisations also form part of the strategy.

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