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California HIV+ Prisoners on Medical Strike

California HIV+ Prisoners On Medical Strike

The rate of HIV (the virus believed to cause AIDS infection) in prisons is higher than in all other institutions in the U.S. National studies have shown that prisoners with AIDS live half as long as people with AIDS on the outside. Even in the face of this damning reality the California DOC refuses to implement a comprehensive, state-wide humane treatment plan for the more that 6,000 prisoners with HIV/AIDS in the California prison system. As a result the prisoners suffer discrimination, segregation, and substandard health care. In effect they are sentenced to death. The California DOC segregates all HIV/AIDS prisoners.

On September 19, 1992, more than 100 prisoners in T and U wings at the California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville initiated a medical strike. Many of the prisoners risk serious illness for participating in the strike. The prisoners demand that HIV related dementia be treated as a medical rather than a disciplinary problem; that staff physician Ezaz be removed and replace by Dr. Foster; that the number of hospital beds be increased to accommodate the level of need; and that standards of care and programming be restored to the conditions prevailing before George Ingle became CMF warden. Since the strike prisoners have met with prison administration representatives and have been unable to produce acceptable results.

On October 1, 1992, ACT-UP (AIDS Coalitions To Unleash Power) held a news conference and demonstration outside the CMF supporting the striking prisoners and demanding prisoners receive: comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment; access to clinical trials; equal access to visitation and prison programs; voluntary and anonymous testing; no forced segregation of HIV+ prisoners; compassionate release for prisoners with AIDS and other life threatening illnesses and prisoner initiated peer education and AIDS prevention classes.

ACT-UP in San Francisco has a number of documentary resources, media resources and additional information on the strike, AIDS information, AIDS in prison and more. They can be reached at: ACT UP-CHAIN, P.O. Box 14844, San Francisco, CA 94144. Call Arawn Eibhlyn (ACT UP/SF) (415) 431-1297; Rob Lowe (ACT UP/SF) (415) 550-8599 or 431-2499; Lawrence Wilson (paroled CMF prisoners) (415) 826-6184.

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