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Question

150. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she continuously monitors infectious diseases in regular prison health monitoring and inspection mechanisms, including human immunodeficiency virus, the hepatitis C virus and tuberculosis. [12667/16]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service has confirmed that all prisoners undergo a committal health screening by the Prison Nurse on their committal to custody, and within 24 hours by the Prison Doctor. This is a general health screen that includes a screen for Tuberculosis and a drug and virology screen which aims to identify previous testing for viral infections, current and past treatment, and activities that may increase exposure to viral infections.
Testing is offered for viral infections and sexually transmitted infections. Any positive results are notifiable under the Infectious Diseases (Amendment) Regulations 2015, and referrals on to specialist services are made for specialist assessment and treatment.
Negative results may be subject to follow on testing depending on timing of possible initial infection or a high risk event, such as an inoculation injury or intravenous drug use with shared needles.
Special measures can be taken in the event of an anticipated or actual infection problem in a prison, such as a pandemic influenza, or active tuberculosis.
Specific measures for certain infection problems are set out in Section 4.9 of the Irish Prison Service's Infection Prevention and Control Policy.
Vaccination is offered to those entering prison for the following infections:
- Hepatitis A/B to all persons committed to prison.
- Meningitis C to those under 23 who have not or may not have had this vaccination to date.
- Influenza; at specific times of the year and in accordance with advice from the Department of Health to those over 65 and those with Chronic Diseases.
- Pneumococcal Pneumonia; to those with Chronic Diseases who have not received this vaccination within the last five years.
- MMR; to those persons who may not have received this vaccination during the 1980s and in accordance with the Immunisation Guidelines set out in Chapter 14 of the Irish Prison Service Clinical Drug Treatment and Policies Manual.
Those referred for specialist treatment will be monitored by those specialist services. Public Health will monitor and treat those with Latent TB infection. Contact tracing takes place in collaboration with Public Health in cases where a new infection is discovered.