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Prisoner health is public health

21 November 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji -

Rebecca Winter presents findings from the Health in Prisoners in Fiji study at the 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand on Wednesday 20th November 2013.

Despite the considerable progress on HIV and STI education and prevention programmes in Fiji, there can be even more progress made if people in prisons are included. This was one of the key findings highlighted by the first-ever longitudinal study addressing ways to improve prisoner health and, importantly, the health of communities to which they return after prison.

‘Prisoner health is public health. They are members of the community,’ said lead researcher Associate Professor Stuart Kinner.


The Health in Prisoners in Fiji study, funded by the Pacific Islands HIV and STI Response Fund, was released today by the Burnet Institute, an Australian research institute, in partnership with The University of Melbourne and the Fiji-based non-governmental organisation Empower Pacific. The research was also presented this week at the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand.


‘Half of those interviewed had reported not receiving any HIV, STI or condom use information or education,’ said Professor Kinner.


70 per cent reported never having had an HIV test and knowledge of risk factors for transmission of HIV and other STIs was also often poor.


Around 200 prisoners were interviewed as part of the study, and re-interviewed one and four months after release from prison. More than one third reported a high degree of psychological distress in the weeks leading up to their release from prison.


'This high stress time is also a high risk time – both for ex-prisoners and for their communities – so if there are limited resources, we can target this time period for HIV and STI education and prevention work,’ said Burnet Institute researcher Ms Rebecca Winter.


The research recommended targeting prisoners and ex-prisoners for HIV and STI education and prevention campaigns through an expansion of programmes such as the Yellow Ribbon Project, which provides socio-economic support to prisoners on their reintegration into the community.


The research was funded by the Pacific Islands HIV and STI Response Fund, a multi-country grant managed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Public Health Division.


Access the complete report on the SPC website here.


For more information please contact: Ms Catherine Somerville, Senior Media and Communications Officer, Burnet Institute, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or +61 422 043 498 orMs Jacinta Isaacs, Strategic Health Communication Officer, SPC Public Health Division at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Photo caption: Rebecca Winter presents findings from the Health in Prisoners in Fiji study at the 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand on Wednesday 20th November 2013.