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Penile Implants among Prisoners—A Cause for Concern?

January 23, 2013

Penile Implants among Prisoners—A Cause for Concern?

Source: PLoS ONE


We report the prevalence of penile implants among prisoners and determine the independent predictors for having penile implants. Questions on penile implants were included in the Sexual Health and Attitudes of Australian Prisoners (SHAAP) survey following concerns raised by prison health staff that increasing numbers of prisoners reported having penile implants while in prison.


Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) of a random sample of prisoners was carried out in 41 prisons in New South Wales and Queensland (Australia). Men were asked, “Have you ever inserted or implanted an object under the skin of your penis?” If they responded Yes: “Have you ever done so while you were in prison?” Univariate logistic regression and logistic regression were used to determine the factors associated with penile implants.


A total of 2,018 male prisoners were surveyed, aged between 18 and 65 years, and 118 (5.8%) reported that they had inserted or implanted an object under the skin of their penis. Of these men, 87 (73%) had this done while they were in prison. In the multivariate analysis, a younger age, birth in an Asian country, and prior incarceration were all significantly associated with penile implants (p<0.001). Men with penile implants were also more likely to report being paid for sex (p<0.001), to have had body piercings (p<0.001) or tattoos in prison (p<0.001), and to have taken non-prescription drugs while in prison (p<0.05).


Penile implants appear to be fairly common among prisoners and are associated with risky sexual and drug use practices. As most of these penile implants are inserted in prison, these men are at risk of blood borne viruses and wound infection. Harm reduction and infection control strategies need to be developed to address this potential risk.

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