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Volume 130: debated on Thursday 31 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he will make a statement on current and future plans to prevent the spread of HIV in Scottish prisons;(2) what is the latest number of HIV-positive prisoners in Scottish prisons.

metropolitian counties of west midlands, Greater Manchester, Greater London, Tyne and Wear, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.

[holding answer 25 March 1988]: The information requested is set out in the table:

As my right hon. and learned Friend made clear in his statement on 29 March 1988, the Government take the problems of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection very seriously. Guidance has been issued to the Scottish prison service informing staff of the nature, the effects and the modes of transmission of HIV infection and the hygiene and other precautions necessary to prevent transmission in prison.The guidance makes it clear that there are no medical reasons for segregating inmates who are known to have HIV infection or for limiting the normal range of work or recreational activities in which they may engage. This guidance has been supplemented by local training using audio-visual material.Medical staff have been issued with specialist guidance on testing and counselling. Testing is available on request to any inmate who may be risk. In the absence of compelling medical indications, testing would not be undertaken without prior explanation and consent or in the absence of suitable arrangements for counselling and support when the result is known. Selected nurse officers are being given training to improve their counselling techniques.The public education campaign to draw the dangers to the attention of those at risk has been extended into prisons and will be continued as further suitable material becomes available. It will continue to be Government policy to seek to restrict situations likely to high risk of transmission of HIV infection in prison. The management of symptomless carriers and the treatment of inmates who are ill as a result of HIV infection will share the aims and principles which are applied to care in the community. Specialist advice or support is sought as required from the National Health Service through the normal system for referral.Full annual returns for 1987 are not yet available, but the number of inmates so far confirmed as HIV positive by medical officers for penal establishments, or who have indicated that they have been positively tested prior to coming into custody, is 73.

It is impossible to estimate numbers who may have been infected prior to reception into custody but have not yet been tested either in the community or in custody.