Prisons creating HIV time-bomb
Relating HIV to a ‘health time-bomb,’ UN officials say a toxic mixture of poverty, drug use and overcrowded prisons have served to create a public health nightmare.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which monitors and sets guidelines for prisons throughout the world, say some 30 million inmates across the globe are potentially living in substandard conditions where populations have not kept pace with space.
Inmates living with HIV and preparing to return to the community are in no better shape, say officials.
Overcrowding is a dilemma in places like Africa and Central America, where prisons can house up to 10 times the number of inmates for which they were originally built.
The United States prison population numbers over 2 million, the highest incarcerated population in the world, according to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).
“We are seeing a disaster around the world,” said Antonio Maria Costa, a UNODC official.
And a slumping economy worldwide has only added to the frustration of the UN, said Costa, as money shrivels up for the construction of prisons.
“Money for prisons is limited worldwide…priority is given to children, to education, to health, to the elderly,” he said.