Warn of increased disease in overcrowded prisons in Central America
February 27, 2012 • 16:25
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and alerted authorities in El Salvador today about the high prevalence of HIV and diseases such as tuberculosis in prisons in Central America by overcrowding.
The rate of infection of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which causes AIDS, and cases of various diseases among the prisoners "is much higher than in the general population," he told Efe the PAHO representative in El Salvador, Joseph Ruales.
Ruales inaugurated by the Minister of Health of El Salvador, Maria Isabel Rodriguez, a regional workshop on human rights and HIV in the population of inmates, which will end tomorrow and involving representatives of Central America, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
"The living conditions of the prisons are generating some health problems besides HIV, (one of) the most common problems we see is tuberculosis", said the representative of PAHO.
Within Latin America, "in Central America I think are the highest rates of overcrowding we have," especially in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and they are aggravated because combat the growing violence increases the incarceration of criminals, he said.
He added that in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and South America "the situation is not too serious because the levels of violence, delinquency, are lower."
Ruales said that HIV prevalence in prisons "multiply" because of "the living conditions, overcrowding and sometimes to the limit" for medical personnel for treatment and guidance to the prison population.
The incidence of the AIDS virus among inmates "may be two, three, five times higher" than in the general population, "depending on the country", he said, without specifying regional statistics.
But he said that in El Salvador there are almost 200 infected with HIV among more than 25,000 inmates, which means "10 times more" than the rest of the population (cases are 260, according to the Ministry of Health).
The 21 Salvadoran prisons have a capacity for about 8,300 inmates.
In 2010 there were worldwide 30 million in prison, with a prevalence rate of AIDS than in between 1.5 and 50 percentage points the rest of society, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Ruales noted that the increase of tuberculosis in prisons also "caused by overcrowding, by the conditions of feeding, malnutrition itself (the affected) and the lack of isolation of patients, who are polluting the rest of private of freedom. "
Salvadoran Minister of Health stressed that the inmates are "a population of high vulnerability" to disease by "prison overcrowding" that remain.
Rodriguez said while inaugurating the forum that the rate of TB in Salvadoran prisons is "700 percent higher" than in the normal population, which "is a scary thing."
The PAHO official stressed that prisons are too serious "skin diseases that are caused by poor hygiene, water (and by) the unsanitary conditions" in general.
"Gastrointestinal infections are very common also, because of the problems of power quality," he added.
In his speech, Ruales and Rodriguez lamented the deaths of at least 361 inmates at the Prison Farm fire of Comayagua (Honduras) two weeks ago.