Prisoners’ right of access to antiretroviral treatment
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Prisoners are susceptible to a number of illness and diseases due, in part, to poor living conditions in prisons (e.g. overcrowding and poor nutrition), substance abuse and sexual violence (e.g. male rape). From a health care perspective, prisons present a particular challenge. From 1996 to 2005, the number of prisoners dying from natural causes per year increased from 211 to 1 507. HIV/Aids has contributed to this increase. The rate of HIV infection among prisoners is unknown and the Department of Correctional Services (the Department) has commissioned a research project to establish this. In the absence of accurate and publicly accessible data, it is difficult to establish the size and scope of HIV infection and the actual number of persons living with AIDS in our prisons. What we do know is that prisoners’ access to anti-retroviral treatment (ARV) is extremely limited. To date, only one accredited ARV treatment centre has been established by the Department, at Grootvlei Correctional Centre in the Free State.