All HIV positive inmates to receive treatment

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Durban – All HIV positive inmates in South Africa’s correctional centres will from September this year receive life-saving antiretroviral drugs, irrespective of their CD4 count.

The announcement was made by Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla at the International Aids Conference, currently taking place in Durban.

“From September 2016, the CD4 count will no longer be used as an eligibility criteria for initiation on antiretroviral treatment. This implies that all HIV positive inmates will have to be put on treatment,” he said.

The Deputy Minister said the policy was anticipated to bring an additional 13 278 inmates on the ARV programme.

Currently, 97% of HIV positive inmates in South Africa’s correctional centres are on treatment and there is an 84% TB cure rate at these centres.

South African correctional centres still experience major problems of sexual abuse. In 2013, the Department of Correctional Services adopted the Policy to Address the Sexual Abuse of Inmates in its facilities to tackle the problem.

Deputy Minister Makwetla explained that any programme in the country that is designed to tackle HIV and other communicable diseases which does not cater for the offender community would have limited success.

“What happens at correctional centres directly affects our communities when these citizens come back and are integrated to society,” he said.

He said effective HIV programmes for inmates were critical given the fact those incarcerated in South Africa’s correctional centres come from poor communities where abuse is rife and upon completing their sentences they return to the same communities.

“It is our belief that it is important that inmates in our correctional centres know their HIV status,” said the Deputy Minister. –

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