25 Nov 2013

Health study finds Fiji prisoners taking risks on release

11:16 am on 25 November 2013

A study into the health of prisoners in Fiji has found that many former inmates revert to risky behaviour soon after they return to the community.

Funded by the Pacific Islands HIV and STI Response Fund, the research looked at the health of people before, during, and after release from prison.

Associate Professor Stuart Kinner from the University of Melbourne says when people are incarcerated there is usually an improvement in health but they found that often deteriorates on release.

Professor Kinner says they saw very high rates of substance use.

"Particularly alcohol, cannabis, and kava and we saw a fairly substantial proportion of people engaging in risky sexual behaviours so unprotected sexual intercourse with casual sex partners."

Stuart Kinner says good prisoner health is in turn good for the public and the report recommends targeting prisoners and ex-prisoners for HIV and STI education.

He says Fiji's 'yellow ribbon campaign' which promotes acceptance of ex-prisoners back into their communities, could be expanded to include their health needs.