- Welcome to the course "Harm reduction in prison"!
This course is designed as a self-study online. To begin we recommend taking a few minutes to explore our platform. Read the manual included below, review the material and preview the assignments.
Since there are variations in policy and guidelines by country, the course cannot reflect country - specific regulations. This course presents general principles, to complement, not replace, national and international guidelines.
If you have questions about course content, please send email to address: email@example.com
Good luck as you get started, and I hope you enjoy the course!
The “Harm reduction in prison” course provides a useful introduction to themes related to drug use in the prison setting and risks related to the transmission of infections through drug use and sexual activities, as well as an introduction on risk reduction strategies and services in prison both from the point of view of service description and of specific organisational and methodological aspects related to the provision of these services in a setting such as prisons.
- Chapter 1. Drug use – effects and risks
Prison and health hardly seem an ideal combination, and yet it is precisely the place where health - of inmates and of staff - is so important. Body and psyche of inmates, particularly when imprisoned for longer periods, are placed under a great strain, which can lead to illness. Here are some tips to show how to take care of your body in prison.
- Chapter 2. Risky behaviour, viruses and infection"All dragons are dead. The only real challenge that more or less was not eliminated by the relentless domestication of the once wild roaming human species is the fight against our untamed small fellow creatures, lying in ambush in dark corners and creeping up on us from the bodies of rats, mice and various pets which fly and crawl around together with insects and await us in our food, drink and even invade our love life." From: "Rats, Lice and History" (1935) by Hans Zinsser (American bacteriologist).
This manual regularly deals with viruses but what actually is a virus? And how does a virus differ from a bacterium? Next, we put the world of microbes under the looking glass.
- Chapter 3. Sexually transmitted diseases and safer sex
There are many kinds of sexually transmitted diseases and infections. And they are very common — more than half of all of us will get one at some time in our lives.
The good news is we can protect ourselves and each other from STDs. Practicing safer sex allows you to reduce your risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases.
- Chapter 4. Safer drug use (and skin penetration)
HIV and other blood-borne viruses can be transmitted via unsafe injecting practices. These unsafe practices include sharing injecting equipment such as water, spoons and filters, but the most important risk comes from sharing needles and syringes.
It is recognised that cleanliness and good hygiene can help reduce an IDU's risk of getting or transmitting HIV or viral hepatitis. Good hygiene can also help prevent sores and bacterial infections in the skin where IDUs inject.
- Chapter 5. Risk reduction strategies in prison - why and how
When developing risk reduction measures in a prison, the chosen strategies should focus on the specific needs and beliefs, on the myths and the living and working conditions of the target groups. Strategies successfully applied outside cannot necessarily be applied inside without adaptations.
- Chapter 6. Harm reduction services in prison and supporting measure
Of course, risk reduction activities are not limited to counselling and training. You have to create the conditions that allow prisoners to act according to the rules of risk reduction. One thing that is vital here is providing the tools and materials that people need to behave safely.
In addition to facilitating safer behaviour, handing out this material provides an opportunity to pass along the message of safer behaviour. As stated above making contact and talking about sensitive things like safer use and safer sex is not always easy. Services providing risk reduction materials to inmates can facilitate and support this work. They can be a catalyst to start a discussion about the issue.