This World AIDS Day, Saving Lives is collaborating with Care UK and Hewell Prison to offer HIV and Hepatitis C tests to patients accessing healthcare services within HMP Hewell in Redditch.
Primary care nursing staff at the prison have been trained to carry out the Saving Lives fingerprick combined HIV and hepatitis C test – and will be running a walk-in clinic in the prison from 10am to 3pm on December 1st. The clinic will be open to any inmates at Hewell who would like to take a test,
HMP Hewell is a multiple security category prison for adult males and holds remand, sentenced and vulnerable prisoners. The prison primarily serves the Worcestershire, West Midlands and Warwickshire catchment area. As with most prisons, the burden of infection with BBVs is high. PHE surveillance data for England suggests that hepatitis C antibodies were discovered in a greater proportion of prisoners (14%) than in people in the general population (3%), suggesting that prevalence of hepatitis C is considerably higher in the prison population than in the general population.
In addition to the high rates of hepatitis C infection, patients within the prison environment are less likely to have previously accessed screening services for HIV before entering prison. This is often due to complex social issues such as homelessness, mental illness and/or drug use. Lack of understanding about the benefits of testing combined with mental health issues, drug use and poor venous access means that inmates often decline the offer of a screen.
The Saving Lives fingerprick test offers an alternative to the standard screen and we hope that on this World AIDS Day that an accessible test – together with advice and support from the nursing team – will encourage prisoners to come forward for testing.