APH 1997, 55, 87-97:

Tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis B and risk behaviour in a Belgian prison.

S. Todts, K. Fonck, R. Colebunders, G. Vercauteren, K. Driesen,
M. Uydebrouck, R. Vranckx, and F. Van Mol

Keywords: Belgium, prison, tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis B, risk behaviour

Prisons are ideal places for transmitting infectious diseases because of the environmental conditions, the high concentration of HIV infected individuals and the occurence of risk behaviour.  A voluntary medical examination accompanied by an interview was proposed to all new inmates of a Belgian prison and was performed by a team not connected to the prison.  Prevalences of tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis B infection as well as the occurrence of risky sexual behaviour and injecting drug use were studied.  As was expected, the prevalences of tuberculosis (426/100 000), HIV (1.2%) and hepatitis B
infection (4.4% hepatitis B surface antigen positive) were much higher in the population of inmates than among the general Belgian population.  Self reported use of illegal drugs (42%) was even higher than was shown in previous studies in Belgian prisons.  Active detection of TB cases in prisons, counseling about sexually transmitted diseases and a more adequate reaction to the drug problem of the prisoners are urgently needed.  Independent teams, who guarantee the confidentiality of the inmates, may play an important role in assisting prison authorities to set up such programs.