HIV and viral hepatitis among imprisoned key populations


Prisons and other closed facilities create opportunities for transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and viral hepatitis during detention and after release. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of peer-reviewed publications (2005-2015) to describe the prevalence of HIV, hepatitis C virus, and hepatitis B virus among key populations in prisons worldwide and to compare estimates of infection with those of other prison populations. Most data were reported for people who inject drugs (PWID; n = 72) and for men who have sex with men (MSM; n = 21); few data were reported on sex workers (SW; n = 6), or transgender women (n = 2). Publications were identified from 29 countries, predominantly middle- and high-income countries. Globally, PWID had 6 times the prevalence of HIV (pooled prevalence ratio (PPR) = 6.0, 95% CI: 3.8, 9.4), 8 times the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (PPR = 8.1, 95% CI: 6.4, 10.4), and 2 times the prevalence of hepatitis B virus (PPR = 2.0, 95% CI: 1.5, 2.7) compared with noninjecting prisoner populations. Among these articles, only those from Iran, Scotland, Spain, and Italy included the availability of methadone therapy; 2 articles included information on access to needle exchange programs by PWID detainees. HIV prevalence was more than 2 times higher among SW (PPR = 2.6, 95% CI: 2.2, 3.1) and 5 times higher among MSM (PPR = 5.3, 95% CI: 3.5, 7.9) compared with other prisoners. None of these articles reported HIV prevention coverage among SW or transgender women; 1 described HIV and sexually transmitted infection screening for MSM in prison. Prevention programs specific to key populations are important, particularly for populations that are criminalized and/or may cycle in and out of prison


Wirtz AL, Yeh PT, Flath NL, Beyrer C, Dolan K




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • Men who have sex with men
    • Transgender communities
    • People who use drugs
    • Prisoners
    • Sex workers
    • General HIV+ population
  • Prevention
    • Sexual risk behaviour
    • Drug use behaviours/harm reduction
  • Co-infections
    • Hepatitis B, C


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