11 Feb 2016 19:50pm
WINDHOEK, 11 FEB (NAMPA) The time has come for Namibia to distribute condoms in correctional facilities, Minister of Health and Social Services Bernard Haufiku says.
He made the call during the handing over of medical equipment to four private medical centres for the performing of voluntary male circumcision on Thursday.
It is high time that we change the laws; prisoners must get condoms, he said.
Governments refusal to distribute condoms to prisoners is an impediment to controlling HIV transmission in prisons, according to the 2013 Baseline Study Report issued by the Office of the Ombudsman in Namibia.
The governments main refusal to distribute condoms in prisons appears to be directly related to the anti-sodomy provisions contained in Section 256 of the Criminal Procedure Act and the common law prohibition of sodomy.
Notwithstanding official denials or insistence that man-to-man sex does not take place in prisons, there is incontrovertible evidence that this practice is widespread in prisons, and will therefore inevitably spread HIV, the report indicated.
According to the Office of the Ombudsman, more than seven per cent of the correctional facility population was HIV-positive when the study was carried out. There were only limited programmes to prevent HIV transmission in place.
Haufiku said for Namibia to make strides in HIV/AIDS prevention, education amongst the youth, circumcision, and the distribution of more condoms is needed.
More than 13 000 men between the ages of 15 and 49 have so far been circumcised in Namibia as part of a voluntary medical male circumcision programme. Namibia first implemented its VMMC pilot project in 2009 at leading State hospitals, such as the Windhoek Central Hospital and Oshakati Intermediate Hospital.
So far, the Ministry of Health and Social Services has rolled out the programme to all 33 district hospitals in the country. The number of people living with HIV in Namibia is about 260 000, while adults aged 15 to 49 prevalence rate is about 16 per cent, according to statistics issued by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS in 2014.