HC Deb 02 March 1990 vol 168 cc348-9W
Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases of hepatitis B infection in prisoners have been reported since 1979.

Mr. Mellor:

Cases have been reported for statistical purposes only since 1984. The latest information is given in the table:

Hepatitis B: Prisoners requiring treatment or special precautions
Reporting period Acute cases Chronic cases (carriers)
1 January 1984 to 31 March 19851 152 240
1 April 1985 to 31 March 1986 165 295
1 April 1986 to 31 March 1987 150 285
1 April 1987 to 31 March 1988 155 198
1 April 1988 to 31 March 1989 105 242
1 15 months.

Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if prisoners are informed of or offered vaccination against hepatitis B; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mellor

Vaccination policy for prisoners is modelled on practice in the general community. Prison medical officers decide which prisoner patients should be offered vaccination, using their clinical judgment and having regard to guidelines issued by the director of prison medical services. The guidelines recommend that medical officers consider offering vaccination to those prisoners who are identified as belonging to a high risk behaviour group and who are expected to remain in the prison system long enough to complete the six-month course.

Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what action his Department has taken to prevent the spread of hepatitis B in prison;

(2) what instructions his Department issues to prison governors regarding combating the spread of hepatitis B.

Mr. Mellor

Our measures include medical inquiry and examination at the reception stage, selective vaccination on a voluntary basis, education and counselling, and limited regime restrictions for identified hepatitis B carriers at the discretion of the prison medical officer.

Governors have an important part to play in facilitating educational initiatives within the resources available to them. They have been encouraged to make wide use of the prison service education package "AIDS Inside and Out", which provides a context for the delivery of important messages relevant to the prevention of hepatitis B infection.

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