Michelle Lensink

Correctional Services, Health Problems

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Correctional Services a question about hepatitis B and hepatitis C in prisons

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: As some honourable members would be aware, hepatitis B and C are transmitted through similar means—contaminated needles and sexual contact. There is a vaccine for hepatitis B but not for hepatitis C. It has been possible to test for hepatitis C only in more recent years, and a combination of the two infections can be a lethal combination. My questions are:

1. Can the minister advise the council of the rates of infection within our prisons?

2. Is testing compulsory?

3. Is a vaccination for hepatitis B available to prisoners?

4. Does the minister have an estimate of the cost of treatment of the health problems secondary to infection within our prisons?

The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO (Minister for Correctional Services): We all know that hepatitis C is a big problem in our prisons and, of course, we do have a program to ensure that we help, at least at some level, to try to eradicate it. I do not have the specific numbers with me here today. There was a briefing here the other day by the council, but I had a briefing in my office some few months ago. The council does some tremendous work and I do pay it credit. As to the statistical numbers that the honourable member is after, I will come back and provide some advice.

Tuesday 6 February 2007

In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (7 December 2006).

The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: I am advised that:

1. Rates of infection within the prison system of Hepatitis B and C are collated by the Communicable Disease Control Branch, Department of Health and the Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic, Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Of the 31 cases of Hepatitis C reported in South Australia in 2006, 11 were prisoners. However, there is no evidence to indicate whether or not these prisoners contracted Hepatitis C whilst in custody.

No cases of Hepatitis B were reported in 2006.

2. Prisoner serological screening for Hepatitis B and C viruses and other blood borne viruses, such as HIV, is conducted on a voluntary basis.

3. All prisoners in South Australia are offered voluntary immunisation against the Hepatitis B infection.

4. The cost of treatment of health problems secondary to infection within prisons is not collated by the Prison Health Service.

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