Inter Press Service (10.28.11) - Wednesday, November 02, 2011
TB and HIV/AIDS patients imprisoned at Peru's San Juan de
Lurigancho, close to Lima, receive treatment at a prison
health center. Built in 2006 by the National Penitentiary
Institute (INPE), the $1 million center was financed by the
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
Though the prison was built to hold 3,500 people, in 2008 it
housed 10,000 prisoners. Today it has 6,000 and is one of the
most crowded and dangerous in Latin America.
Between 2004 and 2008, the Global Fund provided $7 million to
Peruvian projects, which included building prison health
centers in Lurigancho and Tambopata, modernizing TB wards,
improving health infrastructure in 12 prisons, and providing
medical equipment to reduce infections.
"In Lurigancho prison today there are at least 420
tuberculosis patients and another 450 people diagnosed with
AIDS, a much lower figure than in the previous years, thanks
to having adequate infrastructure and trained personnel," said
Dr. Jose Best, INPE's deputy director of health.
Still, the risk of "contracting TB in Lurigancho is 27 times
higher than out on the street," said Henry Cotos, head of
prisons for the Lima region. "We have managed to reduce the
infection rates, but the figures are still worrying, mainly
due to overcrowding."
The center also treats 28 patients with multidrug-resistant
TB, and it has 20 isolation cells where infectious patients
receive "a difficult and exhausting course of treatment," said
Dr. Maria Elena Salas. "The reason these patients are kept in
strict quarantine is so that they don't give up the treatment
and don't infect other people."