212973 Peer Education in Prison Can be a Rights Based Approach

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 3:06 PM

Corey Weinstein, MD, CCHP , Correctional Medical Consultant, San Francisco, CA
Medical care in prison is a public health matter: it concerns the health of those who are incarcerated as well as the health of communities to which incarcerated persons return. Medical intervention is dependent on health education and prevention services as a critical factor in communicable diseases such as Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV) or Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). Peer education in prison—education carried out by people incarcerated who work with others who are incarcerated- is a cornerstone of HIV and HCV prevention. Educators are members of the affected community whether they are living with the disease or not. The educators become a source of focus and information and generally function as teachers and as advocates empowering the community to learn and act on its own behalf. Studies of HIV/AIDS prevention in prison demonstrate that peer education is among those elements that have had the strongest positive influence on behaviors and intentions. In addition, no country has sufficient resources to provide comprehensive primary prevention programs behind bars. Thus, there is significant value to using peer educators who themselves are incarcerated, both because of the high potential for effectiveness and the very low costs. The right of incarcerated persons to become educated and to become peer educators is a human right precisely because of the central role of peers in health care prevention work in prison. Yet prisons resist such strategies for reasons of power and inattention to harm reduction.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the session participants will be able to: 1. list and discuss the advantages of and barriers to peer health education in prison.

Keywords: Public Health, Human Rights

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: MD, CCHP
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.