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Exploring HIV infection in a UK vulnerable prisoner population in response to newly identified cases

Stephanie E. Perrett (Public Health Wales, Cardiff, UK)
Thomas D. Waite (Public Health Wales, Cardiff, UK)

International Journal of Prisoner Health

ISSN: 1744-9200

Article publication date: 27 February 2019

Issue publication date: 22 July 2019




Prison populations are considered at elevated risk of blood borne virus (BBV) transmission. Between December 2015 and February 2016, four new cases of HIV infection were diagnosed across two male vulnerable prisoner (VP) custodial units in Wales, UK. Cases were identified through routine BBV testing. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


As a result of identifying four new HIV cases, targeted BBV testing across the VP units using dried blood spot testing for HIV, Hepatitis C (HCV) and Hepatitis B was undertaken.


A total of 617 men were offered testing, 256 (41 per cent) were tested. No further cases of HIV were identified. Eight men were identified as HCV antibody positive. There was no evidence to suggest the four original cases of HIV were linked.

Practical implications

Embedding universal BBV screening within prison health provision will ensure timely identification of cases. Further research is needed to better understand BBV transmission risks within subsets of the prison population such as the VP and sex offending groups.


Little is known about the prevalence of BBVs in vulnerable prison populations. The findings add to the knowledge available for practitioners in the field.



The authors would like to thank Heather Lewis, Consultant in Health Protection, Public Health Wales, Sion Lingard, Consultant in Health Protection, Public Health Wales, staff at the Welsh Specialist Virology Centre, Public Health Wales Microbiology Cardiff and staff at the prisons concerned.


Perrett, S.E. and Waite, T.D. (2019), "Exploring HIV infection in a UK vulnerable prisoner population in response to newly identified cases", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 244-249.



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