World Aids Day for inmates

2018-12-04 06:00
Wisdom Mpofu with official Davi Karelse at the event.

Wisdom Mpofu with official Davi Karelse at the event.

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About 300 Pollsmoor inmates were reminded about the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and the importance of being tested for HIV/Aids during a World Aids Day event at the correctional centre in Tokai on Wednesday 28 November.

The two-in-one event was organised by the Healthcare Department within Correctional Services prior to the official celebration of the day on Saturday 1 December.

The event involved a commemoration and a workshop on the prevention of the sexual abuse of offenders and non-discrimination against the LGBTQI community.

The emphasis was on encouraging inmates to know and maintain their health status, especially their HIV/Aids status, and to respect one another.

Lucky Hlophe, manager of the Healthcare Department and a coordinator of the event, says they decided to stick to the national theme, “Know Your Status”, and to implement it.

He says that although a full health screening is done once a person has been convicted, they see it as important to keep prisoners updated on issues that concern the whole society and to get them involved where they can.

“Obviously we could not take everyone to the event, but we have a big number of inmates taking part. They responded positively, and some even took the initiative. We do not mean to promote sex or say sex is permitted inside, but these are the people that are serving their sentences and will eventually get back to their communities. They must be aware and have a better understanding of what is happening around them. We do have cases where an inmate tests positive while inside the cells.”

Prisoners got to interact and give their testimonies, as well as get tested during the event.

One of them was Wisdom Mpofu who disclosed his status and gave his testimony.

Mpofu said that for him, speaking openly about HIV is the only way to beat the stigma surrounding it.

He plans to continue working closely with the department to raise awareness and hopes to carry the message even outside prison once he has completed his four-year sentence.

Lewis Davids, the department’s spokesperson, said the event was a success and he thanked everyone involved.

He said they work with local non-profit organisations to run various programmes.

“We believe crime comes from within the communities, hence we involve other stakeholders to run our initiatives. We have organisations that volunteer their services and we are thankful to them because we cannot do this alone.”

He also confirmed that inmates are screened when they are convicted and sent to prison in order to keep records and encourage them to seek medical intervention if necessary.

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