Who are we?

The International Network on Hepatitis in Substance Users – Prisons Network (INHSU Prisons) is a special interest group of INHSU for members who have an interest in participating in scientific knowledge and information exchange, knowledge translation, and advocacy for enhanced hepatitis care in custodial settings. INHSU Prisons was established in 2019 and held its inaugural annual workshop in association with INHSU 2019 in Montreal.

Why we need INHSU Prisons

In 2014, it was estimated that at any one time, more than 10 million individuals were held in custodial settings globally. Of this population, it was estimated that 15%, or 1.5 million individuals, were affected by chronic hepatitis C (HCV) infection, with the overwhelming majority infected via injecting drug use. As there is a close relationship between imprisonment, injecting drug use, and HCV, in any given year, more than 3 million individuals with chronic HCV spend time in prison globally. This group is likely to constitute one of the most marginalised patient groups affected by HCV, who are less likely to access health services in any other setting. In addition, this group features high rates of ongoing HCV transmissions, occurring both in prison and in the community following release.

Despite a heightened need for HCV care, delivery of health services in the prison context is uniquely challenging, as prisons feature a complex nexus of custodial and health bureaucratic structures, overcrowding and frequent movements, and the prisoner population features high rates of mental illness, and exposure to violence and illicit drugs. In relation to HCV, the key elements of evidence‐based harm reduction measures are largely absent from the prison sector worldwide – notably opioid agonist therapies (OAT), and needle‐syringe programs (NSP). Furthermore, HCV testing is highly variable, access to direct‐acting antivirals (DAAs) is rare, and the prison‐based health infrastructure for overall health care is generally limited.

INHSU Prisons has been formed to connect the global community that is working to enhance access to hepatitis care for people in prisons. It aims to bring together researchers, practitioners, policy makers, advocates and affected communities to improve the health of people in prisons and custodial settings.

What are our goals?

INHSU Prisons has identified three key priorities to which align efforts:

  • Facilitate information exchange at the international level to enhance the capacity of prison-based health systems for HCV prevention and care in the custodial sector worldwide
  • Develop prison-focused HCV education programs adapted to diverse prison settings worldwide; and
  • Facilitate translation of health services research to support advocacy and drive policy making, to improve HCV prevention and care efforts in prisons
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INHSU Prisons is led by an Executive Committee

Chair

Professor Andrew Lloyd, Australian National Prisons Hepatitis Network / The Kirby Institute UNSW Sydney, Australia

Vice-Chairs

Dr Matthew Akiyama, Albert Einstein College of Medicine / Montefiore Medical Centre, New York, USA

Dr Joaquin Cabezas, Maques de Valdecilla University Hospital, Santander, Spain

Dr Nadine Kronfli, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Coordinator

Yumi Sheehan, Australian National Prisons Hepatitis Network / The Kirby Institute UNSW Sydney, Australia.

How can you get involved?

All members of INHSU with an interest in HCV care in prisons are invited to join INHSU Prisons. INHSU Prisons members are encouraged to connect with other members via the Network to share their interest and encourage international information and knowledge exchange.

If you are already an INHSU member but haven’t indicated your interest in being involved in INHSU Prisons, update your details in the membership portal via the member link below.

If you are not an INHSU member but wish to join INHSU Prisons (via INHSU membership):

Contact INHSU Prisons

If you want to get in touch with INHSU Prisons, please contact:

Yumi Sheehan

INSHU Prisons Coordinator

E: ysheehan@kirby.unsw.edu.au

If you want to keep in touch with INHSU Prisons outside of membership, join our mailing list to receive our newsletter:

Events and activities

INHSU Prisons holds an annual workshop adjacent to INHSU conferences each year. INHSU Prisons also hosts prison-focussed sessions during the INHSU conference, with invited speakers and selected oral presentations on topics relevant to hepatitis care in the prison setting.

INHSU Glasgow 2021