§ Mr. Robin Cook
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his Department's policy on the distribution of condoms and safer sex information in prisons.
§ Mr. Mellor
It is not our policy to make condoms available to prisoners. An important consideration is that they afford less protection against HIV infection when used for anal sex. We cannot be certain that a change of policy would not encourage significantly more sexual activity of a kind which, even with a condom, carries a particularly high risk of HIV infection. If that were to happen the result might be to increase rather than reduce the spread of infection.
Advice on safer sex is included in the AIDS/HIV education programme for prisoners and is addressed to the need for safe behaviour after release as well as during custody. The part which condoms can play in reducing risk and how they should be used to achieve maximum protection is explained.