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What risk factors are there before prison?

Here, we explore why it is that infectious diseases are particularly relevant in prisons.

People living in prison are more vulnerable to infectious diseases than those living outside prison. In this article, we will explain why that is the case. This is relevant for staff who work in close contact with people living in prison.

There are a number of factors which make people living in prisons more likely to be vulnerable to infectious diseases. Some of these are related are related to their lives before entering prison.

On average, people living in prison are more likely to have experienced some of the things highlighted below than people who did not go to prison. It’s important to remember that this will not necessarily apply to everyone living in prison.

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These behaviours or circumstances make people living in prison more vulnerable to infectious diseases before they’ve set foot in a prison. Here’s some short explanations as to why:

Homelessness

People who have experienced homelessness are likely to have missed key health appointments such as vaccinations. Poor hygiene and health are also associated with homelessness, increasing the likelihood of infectious diseases.

Limited access to protective contraception

People living in prison are more likely to have come into contact with diseases such as HPV or HIV through a limited access to protective contraception such as condoms, for example through sex work.

Use of shared or unclean needles

People living in prison are more likely to have come into contact with hepatitis B or C, or other infectious diseases, through needle use such as injecting drugs or tattooing.

Contact with contaminated drugs

Taking drugs contaminated with soil, for example, may lead to tetanus infection.

Underlying health conditions

People living in prison are more likely to have underlying health conditions, such as heart problems, asthma, arthritis, cancer or diabetes.

Limited access to healthcare

People living in prison are more likely to come from communities with lower access to healthcare. This can lead to people missing healthcare appointments such as vaccinations.

Limited access to health education

People living in prison are more likely to come from communities with lower access to health education. This could lead to knowledge of the benefits of health interventions such as vaccination.

All of these factors mean that before even entering prisons, this population are more likely to suffer from a number of infectious diseases and less likely to be vaccinated than the general community.

This article is from the free online

Prison Health: Vaccinations for People Working and Living in Prisons (Non-Vaccine Trained Staff)

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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