HIV/AIDS and prisons in England and Ireland

Funder:  Wellcome Trust
Dates: March 2016 – February 2018
Principal Investigators:  Professor Virginia Berridge, LSHTM;  Hilary Marland, University of Warwick and Dr Catherine Cox, University College, Dublin.
Staff:  Janet Weston

Description: This study explores how prisons and the prison medical service responded to HIV/AIDS from the 1980s in England and Ireland. The crisis of HIV highlighted the pre- existing tensions concerning health in prisons. Initially the restrictive Viral Infectivity Regulations (VIR) were used, isolating people with AIDS in some prisons. This approach contrasted with the more liberal responses being adopted outside prisons. The debates about harm reduction strategies for gay men and drug users in prison brought human rights issues to a head and highlighted the contested boundary between health and criminal justice. The power of the Prisons Officers Association (POA) in England underlined the local variations in prison policy and the relative weakness of the prison health system. Research was difficult to undertake in prisons but acted as a spur to change. The study will investigate whether AIDS and associated sexual health and drug issues became catalysts for a dawning recognition of the rights of prisoner patients and for more health focussed approaches.

This research is part of the Investigator Award, Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland,1850-2000 held by Professor Hilary Marland University of Warwick and Dr Catherine Cox University College, Dublin and funded by the Wellcome Trust.

For more information on the project click on the link: