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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
INMATES living with HIV/AIDS in Mubuku government prison in Kasese district have asked the Government to improve the conditions of work at the prison. The inmates, who were meeting members of the Judicial Service Commission recently at the prison, said the prison officials subject them to long hours of work and stigmatise them. Patrick Businge, one of the inmates living with HIV, said inmates on ARVs were too weak to dig, especially under the scorching sun. “When one of us (HIV-positive inmates) asks for permission not to go to the garden, the officers tell us that we are responsible for our status since we looked for the disease. We work like others who are not sick,” Businge said. The inmates also reported that their diet was poor which subjected them to opportunistic infections. Alfred Kisobole said that doctors advised them to drink boiled water, eat greens, fruits and have enough rest, which are all not provided in prison. “We are at the edge of our graves. We do not have nutritional food to support the ARVs. We are aware that we committed offences but this does not give the prison authorities a right to send us to our creator before our time,” Kisobole said. Herbert Nzeke, a clinical officer in charge of the prison, said he had asked the prison officials to reduce the workload for the inmates living with HIV in vain. This prompted the eastern region Prisons commander, Moses Kakungulu, to order for the transfer of inmates living with HIV to other prisons with lighter work schedules. Kakungulu said it was wrong for the prison officers to subject inmates living with HIV to long hours of work. “Overworking them is killing them prematurely. They are on ARVs to prolong their lives. You are making it short by overworking them. Take the inmates to prisons with light work,” Kakungulu ordered. Mubuku is a government farm prison with a population of 330.