High prevalence of HIV infection and the over-representation of injecting drug users (IDUs) in prisons combined with HIV risk behaviour create a crucial public-health issue for correctional institutions and, at a broader level, the communities in which they are situated. However, data relevant to this problem are limited and difficult to access. We reviewed imprisonment, HIV prevalence, and the proportion of prisoners who are IDUs in 152 low-income and middle-income countries. Information on imprisonment was obtained for 142 countries. Imprisonment rates ranged from 23 per 100 000 population in Burkina Faso to 532 per 100 000 in Belarus and Russia. Information on HIV prevalence in prisons was found for 75 countries.

1st January 2007 • comment