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Aids in WA DOC


Beth Anderson, health services administrator for the Washington DOC, said that since 1985, 7,604 WA DOC prisoners have been tested for the HIV virus and 135 have tested positive. Currently, the DOC claims there are 63 HIV positive prisoners in custody, with 38 not yet showing symptoms of AIDS. Since 1985, nine prisoners have died in state custody of AIDS.

In response to this, the Governor's Advisory Committee on HIV-AIDS is in the process of holding hearings to make recommendations to the governor on how best to contain the spread of AIDS/HIV within the state's prisons. Current Washington DOC policy does not allow prisoners to have or receive condoms except for Extended Family Visits. Homosexual behavior is punished as a major rules violation.

Tim Hilard, a former television newscaster who was recently appointed to the panel, told the committee on June 14, 1994, that he will strongly urge the Lowry administration to lift the ban on condoms in prison. DOC boss Chase Riveland said he would consider changing the policy if the number of HIV cases grow. There is no forced or mandatory HIV/AIDS testing in the Washington DOC unless a prisoner is accused of biting or attacking a person and there may be cause to suspect the prisoner may have infected the other person. AIDS prevention and awareness classes range from poor to non-existent depending on the facility.

Currently, city jails in San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. and the state DOCs in Vermont and Mississippi issue condoms to the prisoners in their custody. Phyllis Little, of POCAAN's People of Color Against AIDS Network) corrections program believes that condom distribution should not stop at the prison gate. "They (prisoners) have a double risk, with sex and possible needle sharing." "It's the only population where you can find so many persons congregating who are at risk."

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