To reduce the incidence of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), it is necessary to target high-risk populations such as prison inmates. This study aims to explore the range of knowledge on HIV and STIs, sexual behaviors, and adoption of preventive measures among women inmates.
This was a survey conducted between July 1, 2012 and July 29, 2012 among women inmates at Briman Prison, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The author gave an educational lecture on STIs in a conference room at the prison. Educational material was distributed to the attendees after the lecture, and the survey was conducted one week later. All the participants were asked to complete an anonymous 40-item self-administered questionnaire in the presence of a professional health assistant and a translator, for non-Arabic speakers. Data collected included the personal data of the respondent, her alleged criminal background, penal status, accumulative time in prison, history of smoking, alcohol or drug addiction, knowledge about the seven most common STIs, symptoms, modes of transmission, prevention, sexual activity, addiction, and means of protection. Descriptive analysis was performed using Microsoft Excel.
We interviewed 204 women aged 16-60 years (mean, 33.3 years). Most of the respondents (n = 170; 83 . 0%) were not aware of STIs; 117 respondents (57 . 4%) did not undergo screening for STIs before marriage or intercourse, while only 59 (28 . 9%) did. Over half of the respondents (n = 107; 52.5%) thought they knew how to protect themselves from STIs. Nevertheless, 87 (42.6%) were uncertain about the role of condoms in protection from STIs and (n = 41; 20.1%) thought condoms provide 100% protection against STIs, while 72 respondents (35.3%) thought condoms did not confer 100% protection against STIs. Only 10 respondents (4.9%) used condoms to protect themselves from STIs. Saudi women (P = 0.033) and those with a higher level of education (P < 0.01) were significantly more likely to have better knowledge.
Women inmates at Briman Prison have poor knowledge of STIs as well as risky sexual behaviors. Campaigns aimed at increasing awareness of STIs should also target prison inmates, who in general constitute high-risk populations.