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C. Heath care in prison

21. Drug use, including by injection, has been consistently documented to occur in prisons throughout the world. High rates of sharing injecting equipment leads to an elevated risk of transmitting HIV in prisons. Persons in custodial settings are entitled, without discrimination, to the same standard of health care found on the outside, including with regard to prevention, harm reduction and antiretroviral therapy. Continuity of care is critical for those entering places of detention and who have been receiving treatment such as opioid substitution and antiretroviral therapy or treatment for tuberculosis, as interrupting such treatment has serious health consequences.22

22. The Special Rapporteur on the right to health has stated that if harm reduction programmes and evidence-based treatments are made available to the general public, but not to persons in detention, this contravenes the right to health. However, in 2014, while opioid substitution therapy was available in 80 countries, only 43 countries provided such therapy.He has also argued that, given the substantially higher health risks associated with incarceration, harm reduction programmes should be implemented and drug dependent persons should be treated so as to meet public health objectives, even if these services are not yet available in the community (see A/65/255, para. 60).

23. Health protection measures, including harm reduction measures, are effective in prisons and treatment programmes for people who use drugs, and are urgently needed in all prison settings.23 Drug dependence treatment has also been noted to be highly effective in reducing crime, as treatment and care within prisons, or as alternatives to imprisonment, reduce rates of relapse, HIV transmission and recidivism.24

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