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Free Content Ethical issues in tuberculosis screening and the use of new drugs for prisoners

SETTING: Prisons are known to have extremely high tuberculosis (TB) and multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB prevalence and poor treatment outcomes.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the screening and M/XDR-TB treatment with new TB drugs in prisons from the perspective of international ethical and legal requirements.

DESIGN: WHO recommendations on TB screening in prisons and M/XDR-TB treatment as well as the international human rights law on prisoners were analysed.

RESULTS: Prisoners have a human right to access at least the same level of TB care as in their communities. Screening for TB in prisons, which may run contrary to a given individual's choice to be tested, may be justified by the positive obligation to prevent other prisoners from contracting a possibly deadly disease. Introduction of new TB drugs in prisons is necessary, ethically sound and should start in parallel with introduction in a civilian sector in strict compliance with the WHO recommendations.

CONCLUSION: Access to screening for TB, as well as effective treatment according to WHO recommendations, must be ensured by countries on the basis of international human rights conventions.

Keywords: human right; mass screening; multidrug-resistant; prisons

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University Center of Legal Medicine of Geneva, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland 2: World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland 3: Xazar Legal Service, Baku 4: Ministry of Justice, Main Medical Department, Baku, Azerbaijan, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Tartu Ulikool, Tartu, Estonia

Publication date: May 1, 2020

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IJTLD) is for clinical research and epidemiological studies on lung health, including articles on TB, TB-HIV and respiratory diseases such as COVID-19, asthma, COPD, child lung health and the hazards of tobacco and air pollution. Individuals and institutes can subscribe to the IJTLD online or in print – simply email us at [email protected] for details.

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