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Women Prisoners Hold AIDS Walkathon

The April 24, 1993," Fight AIDS" Walkathon, held at the women's maximum security Shawnee Unit of the federal prison in Marianna, FL, was a great success. Eighty women participated, walking 1636 laps, over 300 miles. Over 90% of the prisoners joined in the effort, even the three women in segregation walked, pacing in their punishment cells. To date we have raised $3,232.00 for Bay AIDS Services and Information Coalition (B.A.S.I.C.) in Panama City, Florida.

For the afternoon, we were joined by Mike Lester and Star, two members of the organization and Persons With AIDS (PWAs). They spent the time talking to small groups of women about living with HIV/AIDS and strategies for survival.

For the women of Shawnee, participation in the Walkathon was an expression of solidarity with their fellow prisoners infected with the virus; an act that united the unit family behind the fight to defeat this disease and the rejection of the fear and ignorance that often characterize the reaction to the presence of HIV+ individuals in prison.

The high level of participation and the interest expressed by the women in future activities has given our group a stronger foundation. In the next month we will offer the AIDS education class in Spanish. The Walkathon strengthened our relationship to BASIC. It is our goal to establish an ongoing working relationship with the organization.

By organizing the Walkathon, we wanted to give back to the community some of what the movement against AIDS has given us in the form of ideas, materials and support. We wanted BASIC and the community outside to remember its incarcerated sisters and brothers. It worked.
Shawnee AIDS Awareness Group .

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