IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Conference to Examine HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C in Prisons

8th December 2003

Rates of HIV and Hepatitis C infection have reached epidemic proportions among prison populations in many parts of the world, epidemics primarily driven by the sharing of injecting equipment both inside and outside prison walls.  Ireland also faces the challenges of preventing disease transmission among injecting drug using prisoners, implementing best practice harm reduction programmes and safeguarding the healthcare rights of prisoners.

On Thursday, December 11th the Irish Penal Reform Trust and Merchant's Quay Ireland will be holding a public forum entitled HIV, Hepatitis C, and Harm Reduction in Prisons: Evidence, Best Practice and Human Rights. This forum will examine the evidence of HIV, Hepatitis C and risk behaviour among Irish prisoners, as well as review examples of international best practice in HIV/Hepatitis C prevention and harm reduction in prisons.

"Preventing the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C in prisons, and caring for those infected, are important issues of public health concern, as was recently discussed in the media on World AIDS Day," said Mr Tony Geoghegan, Director of Merchant's Quay.  "We hope this forum will continue to focus the attention of decision-makers and the public on this issue."

Said IPRT Executive Director, Rick Lines, "This forum will provide an important opportunity to examine the Irish evidence on the HIV and Hep C epidemics in prison, as well as what international best practice and human rights guidelines tell us about effective and compassionate responses."

Speaking at the forum will be Prof Heino Stöver (Bremen Institute of Drug Research, Germany) who has conducted extensive research on HIV/AIDS, harm reduction and drug policy in European prisons; Dr Jean Long (Drug Misuse Research Division, Health Research Board) who has conducted significant research into HIV, Hepatitis C and risk behaviours in Irish prisons; and Mr Rick Lines (Executive Director, IPRT) who has worked and published internationally in the area of HIV in prisons since 1993 with various non-governmental health and human rights organisations.

HIV, Hepatitis C, and Harm Reduction in Prisons: Evidence, Best Practice and Human Rights takes place Thursday December 11th 10am-12noon, Merchant's Quay Ireland, 4 Merchant's Quay, Dublin 8.

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