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“The challenge we are faced with as prisons administrators is that we do not know to what extent it [homosexuality] exists or whether it is a forced sexual practice or consensual sexual practice,” he added.“Therefore, the issue of men having sex with men in prisons requires further investigations.” According to Chato, the prison service, with the help of various stakeholders, is carrying out an HIV sensitisation programme to promote abstinence from sex.Testing for the HIV virus is up, knowledge has increased and, most importantly, drugs are available to control the spread of the virus and stop it developing into AIDS.The United Nations estimates there are still 250 new infections a day in Zambia, but that has dropped 27 percent since 2010 and AIDS-related deaths have fallen 11 percent.He claimed the programme will help lower HIV infection rates among prisoners.
In the mortuary, every day, two, three dead bodies," Stephen Shajanika, Mazabuka's District Health Commissioner, recalled in an interview.
Percy Chato, commissioner of Zambian Prisons, said prison service data as of November 22 last year, showed that the HIV prevalence rate among 3,008 male prisoners stood at 10%, while it was five percent among 104 female inmates.
Chato said HIV infection in Zambian prisons is due to ongoing transmission related to overcrowding and a lack of adequate prevention and treatment services.
By Patrick Maboshe As the Zambia Prison service embarks on a campaign to reduce HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM), gay rights activists say more needs to be done to tackle homophobia and discrimination in the country.
Prisoners are one of the groups who are most vulnerable to HIV infection.