Home > Hepatitis C virus screening and treatment in Irish prisons from a governor and prison officer perspective - a qualitative exploration.

Crowley, D and Van Hout, MC and Murphy, C and Kelly, E and Lambert, JS and Cullen, W (2018) Hepatitis C virus screening and treatment in Irish prisons from a governor and prison officer perspective - a qualitative exploration. Health & Justice , 6 , (1) , p. 23.

URL: https://healthandjusticejournal.biomedcentral.com/...


Prisons are a key location to access Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infected people who inject drugs (PWID). Prison health care structures are complex and optimising health care delivery to this high need, marginalised and underserved population remains challenging. Despite international guidelines recommending that prisons are a priority location for HCV screening and treatment levels of prisoner engagement in HCV care remain low. Competing priorities between security and healthcare is a key feature of prison health care. A collaborative approach to health care delivery in prisons can maximise the benefits for prisoners, staff and the wider community.


To identify the barriers and enablers to HCV screening and treatment in Irish prisons and inform the implementation of a HCV screening program within the Irish Prison Services (IPS).


Qualitative study using focus group methodology underpinned by grounded theory.


The following themes emerged from the analysis: priority of safety and security, staffing and resources, concerns about personal risk, lack of knowledge, concerns around confidentiality, prisoners' fear of treatment and stigma, timing of screening, use of peer workers, in-reach hepatology and fibroscanning services. The primary role of prison security is to ensure the safety of staff and prisoners with a secondary but important supporting role in health care delivery. Maintaining adequate staffing levels and the provision of training and education were seen as priorities and impacted on prison officers' fear for personal safety and risk of HCV transmission. Opt-out screening and peer support workers had high levels of support among participants.


Upscaling HCV management in prisons requires an in-depth understanding of all barriers and facilitators to HCV screening and treatment. Engaging prison officers in the planning and delivery of health care initiatives is a key strategy to optimising the public health opportunity that prisons provides.

Item Type:Article
Page Range:p. 23
Subjects:G Health and disease > Disorder by cause > Communicable disease > Hepatitis C
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Identification and screening
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Health care programme or facility > Prison-based health service
MM-MO Crime and law > Justice system > Correctional system and facility > Prison
T Demographic characteristics > Prison Inmate (prisoner)

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