Screening for tuberculosis and testing for human immunodeficiency virus in Zambian prisons


Katie R Maggard, Sisa Hatwiinda, Jennifer B Harris, Winifreda Phiri, Annika Kruuner, Kaunda Kaunda, Stephanie M Topp, Nathan Kapata, Helen Ayles, Chisela Chileshe, German Henostroza, & Stewart E. Reid


Bull World Health Organ 2015;93:93–101| doi:


To improve the Zambia Prisons Service’s implementation of tuberculosis screening and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing.


For both tuberculosis and HIV, we implemented mass screening of inmates and community-based screening of those residing in encampments adjacent to prisons. We also established routine systems – with inmates as peer educators – for the screening of newly entered or symptomatic inmates. We improved infection control measures, increased diagnostic capacity and promoted awareness of tuberculosis in Zambia’s prisons.


In a period of 9 months, we screened 7638 individuals and diagnosed 409 new patients with tuberculosis. We tested 4879 individuals for HIV and diagnosed 564 cases of infection. An additional 625 individuals had previously been found to be HIV-positive. Including those already on tuberculosis treatment at the time of screening, the prevalence of tuberculosis recorded in the prisons and adjacent encampments – 6.4% (6428/100 000) – is 18 times the national prevalence estimate of 0.35%. Overall, 22.9% of the inmates and 13.8% of the encampment residents were HIV-positive.


Both tuberculosis and HIV infection are common within Zambian prisons. We enhanced tuberculosis screening and improved the detection of tuberculosis and HIV in this setting. Our observations should be useful in the development of prison-based programmes for tuberculosis and HIV elsewhere.

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