The Medical officer in Charge of Luzira Upper prison Clinic Dr Joshua Oluka has advised Government to allocate more funds in the Prison’s health budget in order to reduce HIV/AIDS infections among inmates.
According to the medical personnel, the HIV prevalence among inmates is still high because prisoners are fond of sharing sharp objects yet it’s one of the methods through which HIV is transmitted.
“Prison welfare department routinely provides some of the piercing instruments like razor blades and needles for those who cannot afford. However due to inadequate resources to provide for all the inmates, a number of them are compelled to share such objects,” Oluka noted.
“Despite the programs that prison service provides to sensitize inmates on the effects of sharing sharp objects, they continue to use them which is very dangerous,” he added.
The HIV prevalence among inmates stands at 11.2 and this is twice the national prevalence. In a lock up of 2575 inmates within Upper Prison, 333 inmates are living with HIV/AIDS of which 178 prisoners access antiretroviral therapy Oluka noted.
Oluka said governmnet has put in a lot of effort towards supplying drugs for inmates living with HIV. However since ARVs are strong, the patients are required to have a balanced diet which the prison can’t afford because it requires a special budget.
Positive inmates are given some eggs, vegetables and fruits supplied from prison farms but the supplement is still not enough to cater for the patients on antiretroviral therapy.
Gabriel Mugaga one of the inmates living with HIV told the New Vision, “some of his colleagues fear taking Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) due to poor nutrition yet it calls for a balanced diet for a patient to take such medication.”
He further explained that inmates are forced to throw away the drugs meant for their treatment after realizing that they cannot swallow the drugs on empty stomachs.
Mugaga was arrested in Bugangaizi Kibaale district and convicted to 13 years on charges of robbery.
“Right now none of my relatives has come to visit me while in jail because they are not aware of my transfer from my home area to Luzira Upper Prison,” he said.
He appealed to government to transfer inmates to their home areas so that they access assistance from their relatives as they serve their sentences.