Prevalence of HIV, HepBsAg and Hep C antibodies among inmates in Chichiri prison, Blantyre, Malawi
Objective 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. Design 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. Setting Chichiri Prison in Blantyre which is one of the largest prison facilities in Malawi. Adult males and female inmates participated while juveniles were excluded. Results 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. Conclusions 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
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