HL Deb 12 January 1987 vol 483 cc468-9WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps are being taken to inform prisoners and staff of the dangers of AIDS and means of avoiding it; how they identify AIDS victims and carriers in prisons, and whether they provide testing facilities for prisoners who request them.

The Earl of Caithness

Screening for AIDS and potential AIDS cases, as well as for other infective conditions, is undertaken through the medium of the medical examinations and inquiries to which all prisoners are subject on first reception. Statements or clinical findings which suggest a possible contact with AIDS or HIV infection are thoroughly followed up by the medical officer and an HIV antibody test is advised in appropriate cases and carried out if the prisoner consents.

A test will also be carried out if a prisoner requests one. In either circumstance, before blood is taken the prisoner will be counselled to prepare himself psychologically for the possibility of a positive result and to ensure that he understands the full consequences of being identified as HIV antibody positive. The Prison Department has asked governors and medical officers to make available to prisoners the educational material produced by the Health Education Council and other bodies, and it proposes to distribute to all prisoners the leaflet being prepared by the Department of Health and Social Security for delivery to households. Prisoners also have access to much of the advice already being disseminated in the context of the general public education campaign through the press and other media.

Much has also been done by the department centrally, regionally and locally—in the form of management guidelines, training programmes and specially convened meetings—to provide staff with information and advice relevant to AIDS. These measures will continue.