The FLEW project - Free to live well with HIV in prison(2018)
Example of peer involvement in prison work. The FLEW project (Free to live well with HIV in prison) is the result of collaboration effort between several agencies in Italy. In 2016, 677 people in prison, 107 prison officers, 112 healthcare professionals, 70 educators and office staff, and 28 volunteers were given a questionnaire to assess their knowledge on HIV and HIV transmission. They were also asked to report on the level of stigma attached to HIV among people in prison, prison officers, educators and healthcare professionals.
For example, almost 60% of those interviewed thought that engaging in a fistfight – which can easily lead to bleeding – would not expose them to the risk of HIV transmission. In 10 prisons across seven Italian regions, educational activities were organised for people in detention, prison officers and educators. A group of peer educators – people living with HIV (PLHIV) who also at some point in their lives were imprisoned – conducted a number of activities aimed at people in detention. Their work was essential to meet the project goals of improving HIV prevention in prisons, fighting stigma, and improving the quality of life of PLHIV. Another innovative element was the introduction of HIV rapid testing in prison settings. Over 650 tests were requested, both by people in detention and prison staff. All appreciated the testing opportunities presented by the project. The methods developed in this project are adaptable to other detention facilities.