Technical Working Group on Prison Health was Established The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (formerly the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention) was set up in 1997, combining the United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention and the United Nations International Drug Control Programme. It was established by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Technical Working Group on Prison Health was Established The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (formerly the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention) was set up in 1997, combining the United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention and the United Nations International Drug Control Programme. It was established by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Technical Working Group on Prison Health was Established

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (formerly the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention) was set up in 1997, combining the United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention and the United Nations International Drug Control Programme. It was established by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

UNODC, a co-sponsor of UNAIDS since 1999 and the lead agency in the UNAIDS family for HIV/AIDS matters pertaining to injecting drug use and prisons, has been assisting governments and non-governmental organizations to develop and implement comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention and care for drug users. With the integration of the Office’s crime and drugs programmes, UNODC has also begun to assist governments with developing and implementing HIV/AIDS prevention and care programmes in prison settings. Governments are being assisted in the implementation of international instruments, norms, standards and UN resolutions (normative work), are provided assistance in programme and policy development and implementation (technical assistance) and a wide range of training opportunities (capacity building).

HIV/AIDS prevention and care programmes for injecting drug users typically include a wide variety of measures (the “package” approach); ranging from drug dependence treatment, including drug substitution treatment; outreach providing injecting drug users with information on risk reduction and referral to services, clean needles and syringes, and condoms; voluntary counselling and testing; treatment of sexually transmitted infections; antiretroviral therapy; and interventions for especially at-risk populations such as prisoners and sex workers who inject drugs. Such a comprehensive package of measures also usually includes treatment instead of punishment for persons convicted of minor offences, since drug treatment not only constitutes a humane, cost-effective alternative, but also because incarceration usually increases the risk of HIV transmission. Particularly for young people, drug abuse prevention and the prevention of the transition from non-injecting to injecting drug use play an important role.

Effective policies to prevent HIV/AIDS inside prison and other correctional settings are often hampered by the denial of the existence of the factors that contribute to the spread of HIV (e.g., unsafe sex and drug use, gangs, violence) inside these institutions. In order to address the overall situation, a comprehensive strategy must focus at three broad levels:

• Policy level: Address structural issues such as prison rules and regulations, overcrowding, monitoring and improving general conditions in the institutions.
• Prison management level: Operationalize national policies for the specific institutions.
• Service provider level: Awareness-raising and capacity building activities among prison staff and other service providers.

National policies, legislations, rule, regulations and guidelines governing prison management worldwide, including Ukraine, were usually developed before the onset of HIV/AIDS epidemics. They are obsolete, and consequently do not provide room for effective HIV/AIDS prevention and care programmes. In fact, in many countries, authorities are in denial that HIV/AIDS risk behaviour even occurs in prisons, which is in stark contradiction with the available scientific evidence. Only very recently, UNODC has begun to develop global guidelines for HIV/AIDS prevention and care in prison settings, which could be used for adaptation at the country levels. While various stakeholders in the region indicated their readiness to implement concrete interventions in prisons, an unfavourable legal and policy environment hampers them. Similarly, the development and implementation of national strategies for HIV/AIDS prevention and care in prisons are impeded by such obsolete policies. In fact, at a recent meeting of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, governments requested UNODC to provide them with assistance in establishing effective HIV/AIDS prevention and care programmes in prison setting.

In order to achieve these objectives UNODC Regional Office for Ukraine and Moldova together with State Department of Corrections (SDC) in Ukraine, has initiated the establishment of the Technical Working Group (TWG) on health in Prison Settings (PS). First meeting of that group was hold on April 11, 2007.

TWG includes representatives from several Ministries, including the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Justice, Health, Youth and Family Issues and general prosecutors office; relevant UN agencies, National experts on drug abuse and HIV/AIDS issues and Local NGOs involved in the work within Prison Settings.

The overall objective of TWG on Health is to work towards the improvement of prison systems and prison reforms, and to promote networking and partnership building among relevant stakeholders. The main role of the TWG is to foster a joint and accelerated response to the HIV/AIDS epidemics associated with injecting drug use and other at risk behaviors in prisons settings, following European and International best practices and based on the experiences already developed in Ukraine. The Technical Working Group will meet once every two months. Between meetings, member agencies will be involved in related activities e.g. exchanging experiences and updating on new developments related to HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment in prison settings.

During the first meeting of technical Working Group was decided that group will provide assistance in the assessment of their national HIV/AIDS situations prison settings and in development of effective strategies for scaling-up. It will also assist in reviewing and modification of existing national HIV/AIDS policy and implementation plans, and will help in assessing training needs and in building national capacity for enhanced policy and programme development and implementation, effective coordination and sound monitoring and evaluation with regard to HIV/AIDS prevention and care in Prison settings.

Dr.Zaza Tsereteli, Regional Advisor for HIV/AIDS, UNODC Ukraine& Moldova, was elected as a chairman of Working Group. The Deputy Head of the Department, Mrs Natalia Kalshnik, was nominated as a Co-Chair of this group.

For more information on UNODC activities within field of HIV/AIDS see the website of UNODC at www.unodc.org