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Prisoners: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Volume 692: debated on Tuesday 12 June 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether men and women who are committed to prison undergo a medical examination; and, if so, whether this examination ascertains whether they carry a sexually transmitted disease, in particular HIV. [HL4132]

All prisoners undergo health reception screenings on entry into prison. This is a detailed questionnaire completed by healthcare staff interviewing the prisoner. It is designed to identify any long-term medical conditions, any use of prescribed medication, any history of alcohol or substance dependence, any mental health problems and any symptoms requiring urgent medical attention or indicating a need for review by a medical doctor.

Health reception screenings do not include a screen for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or a blood test for HIV infection.

Tests for STIs or HIV can be offered to prisoners following a risk assessment by a doctor, or other appropriately trained member of the healthcare team, if a prisoner presents with signs or symptoms of such infections or describes risk behaviour which may have exposed him or her to such infections.

Prisoners are also able to request a screen for STIs or HIV if they believe that they may have been exposed to infection.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many prisoners tested positive for a sexually transmitted disease in the most recent analysis; how many tested positive for HIV; how this number was divided between men and women; and what are the comparable figures for the past 10 years for which figures are available. [HL4133]

This information is not collected centrally.

A recent study of genital chlamydia trachomatis infection in young male inmates in the United Kingdom found that 13 per cent of new inmates tested positive for chlamydia1.

Also, data collected by the National Chlamydia Screening Programme in 49 prisons, where more than 1,100 screens were performed between April 2005-March 2006, found a similar prevalence rate of infection of 12 per cent.

This is higher than the prevalence in similar groups in the community and identifies prisoners as a high-risk group for infection.

The last major study of HIV prevalence in prisoners in England and Wales found that of 3,942 prisoners tested, 0.4 per cent were infected with HIV, 8 per cent with hepatitis B and 7 per cent with hepatitis C2.


1 The first point prevalence study of genital chlamydia trachomatis infection in young male inmates in the UK.

Menon-Johansson, A.S., Winston, A., Matthews, G., Portsmouth, S., Daniels, D.

International Journal of STD & AIDS, Volume 16, Number 12, December 2005, pp. 799-801

2 Prevalence of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C antibodies in prisoners in England and Wales: a national survey.

Weild AR, Gill ON, Bennett D, Livingstone SJM, Parry JV, Curran L. (2000). Communicable Disease and Public Health 2000;3:121-6.