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Prisoner With AIDS Care Found Lacking

The national commission on AIDS has concluded a study of AIDS in prisons and jails with the finding that "the situation today for many prisoners living with [the AIDS] disease is nothing if not 'cruel and unusual.'"

After visiting prisons, holding a fact-finding hearing, and gathering other information, the 15-member findings commission said, "The finds were sobering and troubling .... Prisoners with HIV disease are often subject to automatic segregation from the rest of the prison community, despite the fact there is no public health basis for this practice. Lack of education of both inmates and staff creates fear and discrimination ... and unjust policies directed toward inmates living with HIV disease. Despite high rates of HIV infection [among prisoners] and an ideal opportunity for prevention and education efforts, former prisoners are re-entering their communities with little or no added knowledge about HIV disease and how to prevent it," the commission said.

The Commission, whose members were appointed by the President and Congress, recommended that the U.S. Public Health Service develop guidelines for treatment and prevention of HIV disease in all federal, state, and local correctional facilities. Adequate health care should include, at a minimum, access to HIV testing, regular examinations by physicians with sufficient training in AIDS-related diseases, T-cell monitoring at regular intervals, and "timely, consistent and appropriate access to necessary medications."

The 43 paged report is HIV Disease in Correctional Facilities, and includes a model policy on AIDS for prisons. It is available from the National Commission on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, 1730 K Street NW, Suite 815, Washington, D.C. 20006.

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