Minister of Home Affairs Uladi Mussa says Malawi Government will have to develop interventions in local prisons after a study revealed a high HIV prevalence of up to 40 percent.
The high rate has partly been attributed to homosexuality.
The Report on Prevalence and Risk Factors for HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Tuberculosis in Malawian Prisons was presented at an advocacy workshop in Blantyre on Thursday.
The study, commissioned by the Malawi Prison Services and funded by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has also identified congestion and general poor sanitation as some of the factors leading to the high rate of contagious diseases.
The report, for example, says the prevalence HIV among male inmates is 40.6 percent in central prisons, 22.9 percent in medium size prisons whereas small size prisons have 19.1 percent.
Mussa, while admitting that reports have revealed that homosexuality happens in Malawi prisons, said the high prevalence for HIV could not wholly be attributed to the same sex act.
Mussa also confessed that the current situation in some prisons defeats the purpose of prisons as rehabilitation centres as prisoners are subjected to inhuman conditions due to congestion.
The report says the study was designed to assess the prevalence of HIV among prisoners and staff, apart from other infections such as TB and selected STIs such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.
â€œFactors directly attributed to the high perceived risk of these infections included congestion, homosexuality and sharing of piercing or cutting instrument,â€ reads the report in part presented by Dr Geoffrey Chipungu from College of Medicine.
Giving the prevailing situation in prisons, acting Chief Commissioner of Prisons Kennedy Nkhoma admitted that the existing 31 prisons in the country have the capacity to house 5 610 inmates but that currently there were 12 110 prisoners representing 200 percent occupancy rate.
Centre for the Development of People executive director Gift Trapence said for a long time, Malawi has overlooked the issue of HIV challenges in prisons by, among other things,Â denying the existence of sexual practices in those facilities.