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Prevalence of HIV, HepBsAg and Hep C antibodies among inmates in Chichiri prison, Blantyre, Malawi

C Chimphambano
I O Komolafe
A S Muula


To determine HIV, HepatitisBsAg and Hepatitis C antibodies including
knowledge, attitudes, practices and risk factors that may facilitate the
spread of HIV among inmates at Chichiri Prison, Blantyre, Malawi.
This was a cross sectional study. Informed consent was sought from each
of the participants before interviewer-administered questionnaires were
used to collect socio-demographic data. Blood specimens were collected
for HIV and hepatitis B and C serology.
Chichiri Prison in Blantyre which is one of the largest prison facilities in
Malawi. Adult males and female inmates participated while juveniles were
A total of 164 prison inmates comprising 142 males (86.6%) and 22
females (13.4%) participated in the study. The age range was 18-65 years
with mean age at 28.6 years. Overall HIV prevalence rate was 36.6%;
among male inmates it was 29.9%, and among the 22 female inmates
tested, 11(50%) were reactive. Five males (3.5%) tested positive for
HepBsAg with one of them dually infected with HIV. All participants
were hepatitis C negative. 141 (86%) inmates acknowledged that they
knew that man to man sex occured in the prison, 55(33.5%) believed
that mosquito bites could spread HIV; 33(20.1%) said that sex was the
only way HIV could be spread, 8(4.9%) thought that HIV/AIDS could
be spread through food sharing. 20 (12.2%) believed that HIV couldn't
be spread from mother to child and 135 (82.3%) acknowledged that
tattooing was practiced among the inmates. 130(79.3%) acknowledged
knowledge of use of cannabis in prison; 3 (2.1%) male inmates actually
accepted being homosexuals. None of the inmates reported knowledge
of use of injectable drugs within the prison.
HIV prevalence rate (36.6 %) at the Chichiri Prison is higher than the
national average of 14%, while female infection rates were higher than
males. There are gaps in the inmates' knowledge of the epidemiology
of HIV which need to be bridged through awareness programmes.
Homosexuality and injecting drug use may not be a major factor in HIV
transmission within prisons in Malawi. The low prevalence of Hepatitis
BsAg (3.5%) and the inability to detect Hepatitis C antibodies deserve
further study.

Malawi Medical Journal Vol. 19 (3) 2007: pp. 107-110