Canadian Prisoner Recognized for Advocacy on Prisoner Health Issues
The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal network and Human Rights Watch has recognized people and organizations that protect the rights and dignity of those living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. Peter Collins has worked as a peer health counselor since the late 1980’s.
In that capacity, Collins has provided prevention services, education and support to prisoners living with HIV and hepatitis C, advocating for better health care and HIV prevention services. “It’s not easy to be an advocate for prisoners when you’re a prisoner yourself,” said Richard Elliott, executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal network.
Collins was nominated for the award by Giselle Dias, a policy analyst for Prisoner’s HIV/AIDS Support Action Network, which has worked with Collins since 2000. “We found the work he was doing was significant,” said Dias. “He’s been able to do it incredibly well despite the barriers, but I think that he’s faced consequences in deciding to speak out about health concerns in prisons.”
Statistics show a need for that advocacy. Of the 18,200 persons in Canadian prisons or related community programs, there are 218 known cases of HIV, which is 10 times higher than the rest of the population, and 3,661 cases of hepatitis C, which is 40 to 80 percent higher than the rest of the population. These numbers only reflect self reported cases.
By awarding Collins, a message is being sent to the Canadian Government. “There is a public health issue in prisons that is not being dealt with the way it needs to be dealt with,” said Elliott.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
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