Prisons ticking time bomb for HIV positive inmates

HARARE - Zimbabwean Prisons have become a ticking time bomb to prisoners living with HIV as they are not offered the necessary nutritious diets, regular treatment, counselling and proper health care services.

President Robert Mugabe usually gives a general amnesty in December to prisoners in a bid to offload the pressure in prisons.

Members from the Zimbabwe Prisons Services (ZPS) who spoke to The Zimbabwean on Sunday confirmed that the situation at various prisons remained appalling as inmates were exposed to life threatening conditions.

Living conditions for inmates are still dreadful. Most inmates are going for days and months without proper food, said a prison guard at Chikurubi Maximum Prisons. At times, they are only fed once as there are no adequate food supplies. This has led to a deterioration of health for most inmates, especially those living with HIV. Some are not provided with regular counselling and treatment which further compromises their health. The situation is just inhuman watching people waste away its disheartening.

Red Cross offered humanitarian assistance of food supplies mostly to benefit people living with HIV in prisons several months ago. Inmates currently on Antiretroviral treatment should get protein dishes twice a day, but this is currently not happening.

ZPS Public Relations officer Superintendent Elizabeth Banda is on record saying, The food, which is being provided by the rehabilitation institutions for the inmates is rather not nutritious enough for people on Anti-Retroviral therapy hence the need to lobby for supplies from humanitarian organisations for the benefit of inmates living with HIV.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said prisoners had the right to safe environments according to Article 24 of Human Rights Bil. It said they had a right to good health and those living with HIV once they get tested or disclose their status, they were supposed to be transported to nearby ART centres for their regular medical supplies.

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