No Time to Lose

HIV/AIDS and HEPATITIS C

in NEW YORK STATE'S PRISONS

by the Prison Committee
of ACT UP/New York
 

download this document here  (PDF)

YOU CAN REPORT   
PRISON  SUB STANDARD CARE

INTRODUCTION

Between 1995 and 1999 the HIV infection rate in Federal and State prisons rose from 1,500 to 25,757 according to the U.S. Department of Justice. And as of 2001 New York State has the largest known infection rate of 7,000 inmates.

"The Correction Association of New York" in a February, 2000 report in its Executive Summary concludes, "Significant improvements have been made in recent years in some cases producing dramatic results; however, systemic problems continue to compromise the delivery of prison health care."

Governor Pataki's own AIDS Advisory Council in a report "HIV/AIDS Services in N.Y. State's Correctional Facilities" in its Executive Summary finds that, "...there were serious deficiencies in prison health services, particularly for inmates with HIV, and substantial improvements should be undertaken immediately."

It is estimated that there are 10,000 New York State inmates infected with Hepatitis C (an HIV co-infection.) according to a "N.Y. Times" article dated August 8th 2001. In that article, Edward McKenna an inmate at Woodbourne Prison is dying with HCV and is suing N.Y. State accusing prison doctors of denying him treatment.

In January and February of 2001 "No Time to Lose" interviewed 30 ex-offenders infected with HIV/AIDS/HCV just released from New York State's prisons. The questions posed to the respondents had to do with their treatment and the attendant issue of prevention. Their answers were recorded on audio tape, tabulated and presented in graph form (see below).

Throughout the remainder of this info-letter we will cease referring to those infected as inmates but rather patients. The info-letter is organized into 4 parts, introduction, patient's quotes, graph, conclusion and recommendations.

 

PATIENT'S QUOTES
.

CONCLUSIONS

The current state of the NYS prison system is dangerous for inmates, as well as for society in general. Inmates are at increased risk of contracting HIV and HCV while in prison, and are then sent back into society knowing little about their disease and how it is spread and treated. In this manner, the prison has become a breeding ground for disease both inside and outside the prison system.

Ignoring the problem will simply cause it to worsen exponentially. Steps must be taken now to prevent further loss of life. Prisoners and staff must be given badly needed education on HIV/AIDS/HCV. A real prevention strategy, including the distribution of condoms is long overdue. And we must provide medical care to those already infected, using the same standards required outside the prison system.

Prisoners are not less than human, and they deserve to be treated as we ourselves would be treated. The issue can no longer be ignored. And the responsibility sits squarely on Governor Pataki's shoulders.

THERE IS NO TIME TO LOSE.
.

.
RECOMMENDATIONS

The following recommendations are directed to Governor Pataki and the New York State Department of Corrections:
.
All New York State Prisons should follow the lead of the Albion and Bedford institutions and establish an in depth, mandatory, 2-week orientation for all inmates on HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis C.
.
Latex barriers must be distributed freely to the incarcerated population.
.
Patients should receive the same standard of care that could be expected outside of the prison system.
.
Under no circumstances should there be a break in a patient's medication regime. All prisons should establish a medication protocol that allows patients to keep their medications on their persons (KOP). The "medication window" should be eliminated.
.
Doctors and nurses that are experienced in dealing with infectious diseases should fully treat HIV/AIDS/HCV patients.
.
Measures must be taken to control the spread of Hepatitis C within the system. These measures should include but not be limited to diagnosis and treatment.
.
Confidentiality is paramount in protecting the inmate's safety within the system. Immediately discontinue the color-coding of medical charts.
.
Corrections personnel the medical staff and inmates should practice universal precautions.
.
That the New York State Health Department have oversight in the care of the incarcerated population of New York State.
.
Segregation and ghettoization of patients with HIV/AIDS/HCV doesn't work -- education does.
.
Patients should not be intimidated into accepting anything less than the state of the art therapy for their HIV/AIDS/HCV. Medicines should not be withheld because of their cost.
.
Discharge medications as well as safer sex counseling should be provided.
.
Clinics and infirmaries should provide adequate time with the patient to discuss his/her treatment. The patient should not be rushed.
.
Medical staff should provide a translator experienced in medical terminology in cases where the patients do not speak English.
.
Cease censoring HIV/AIDS/HCV specific media and peer education covering prevention, treatment and research, including magazines, videos and audio tapes.


.

YOU CAN TAKE ACTION:

Report substandard health care or denial of care in New York State prisons 

send your report to Health Commissioner Novello



New York has the
most known inmates
with HIV and AIDS

TAKE ACTION
FIGHT HIV AND HEP C
IN PRISONS!

"We're calling this issue, 'Our House is on Fire,'" said Tony Spencer of the National Black Leadership Council on AIDS. "HIV/AIDS is so prevalent among prison population. And in most of the prisons in New York State they aren't even treating HIV. Condoms are not distributed."

WHY SHOULD THIS
MATTER TO ME?

We feel that everyone with HIV, whether they are inmates or not, is entitled to good medical care and protection of their confidentiality. Many people don't feel the same way. Whether we like it or not, inmates come home, and the HIV treatment they get in jail has an impact on the public health of our communities.

New York State Assemblyman Jeff Aubry has allowed HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C to flourish in NYS prisons, even though he is the chairman of the NYS Corrections Committee. Ex-offenders are discharged into the community without a clue about these diseases, how they are spread and how they are treated. Often they come home sicker than when they were in jail--or they don't come home at all.

NO EDUCATION ABOUT INFECTIOUS DISEASES

NYS prisons provide no ongoing education, counseling or support groups for people with HIV or Hepatitis C.

SUBSTANDARD TREATMENT and MEDICAL CARE

Medical care for prisoners with HIV and Hep C varies widely, and is usually substandard. There is no standard of care when it comes to treatment for these two deadly diseases. Serious interruptions in medication mean the drugs stop working, and increase the chance of developing HIV that is harder to treat, and can increase the risk of sickness or death.

NO PREVENTION

Governor Pataki refuses to allow the distribution of condoms in NYS prisons despite recommendations to the contrary from his own AIDS Advisory Council and the National Institute of Medicine. The State Health Commissioner, Dr. Novello, refuses to recognize that NYS prisons are a public health hazard, thereby aiding and abetting the spread of HIV and Hep C within their walls and out into the community.

NO ACCOUNTABILITY

The Department of Corections is run like a fiefdom, answering to no one. Medical care for prisoners should be overseen by the NYS Department of Health.

CALL ASSEMBLYMAN AUBRY AND GOVERNOR PATAKI
TELL THEM TO TAKE ACTION TO FIGHT HIV AND HEP C !

Say you want real action now:

  • Condoms distributed to inmates

  • Treatment and improvements of medical care

  • Education and counseling on how to care for, and prevent transmission
    of HIV and Hep C
    .

Jeffrion L. Aubry, State Corrections Commitee
Phone: 718-457-3615   
aubryj@assembly.state.ny.us

Governor George Pataki
Phone: 518-474-8390
gov.pataki@chamber.state.ny.us < he canceled his email !

         TAKE ACTION FORM     

Report substandard health care or denial of care in New York State prisons 

send your report to Health Commissioner Novello

download this document here  (PDF)



GRAPH

In January and February of 2001, we interviewed 30 ex-offenders infected with HIV/AIDS/HCV just released from New York State's prisons. The questions posed to the respondents had to do with their treatment and the attendant issue of prevention. Their answers were recorded on audio tape, tabulated and presented in graph form.

    
              download this document here  (pdf)        download map of NY State Prisons (pdf)

1) NOTE: The numbers in the BOXES indicate the number of respondents who experienced the same deficiency in HIV/AIDS/HCV care in the same prison.
2) NOTE: This info-letter focuses on the standard of care of patient's with HIV/AIDS/HCV and also the attendant issues of prevention and education in New York State Prisons. We have included * Riker's Island Prison, part of New York City Corrections Department, in our letter, due to the overwhelming number of deficiencies as reported by our respondents.

 

ALBION

ARTHUR KILL

ATTICA

AUBURN

BEDFORD

CAMP GABRIEL

CAPE VINCENT

CLINTON

COMSTOCK

ELMIRA

FISHKILL

FULTON

GOWANDA

GROVELAND

MARCY

MID ORANGE

MID STATE

MOHAWK

OBERLAND

ONEIDA

 * RIKERS
.

RIVERVIEW

SING SING

ULSTER 

WOODBOURNE

Correctional Officers infect inmates with HIV.
                                               

HIV/AIDS care denied because of prisoner status.
                                               

Ghettoization of patients with HIV/AIDS.
                                         

Too long between clinic appointments.
                                               

Charts identified with HIV status.
                         

 2
                 

Doctors not treating side effects of HIV/AIDS medication.
                                                 

No safer sex counselling provided upon discharge.
                                                 

HIV/AIDS medications are lost when patients transfer from prison to prison.
                                                 

Clinics and infirmaries are not near the main prison.
                           

 2
                   

Unsafe tattooing.
                                               

Doctors not listening to patients with HIV/AIDS/HCV.
                                                 

Inmates punished when found with latex barriers.
                                                 

Medical charts are lost when patients are transferred from prison to prison.
                                                 

Unclean cells, clinics and toilets.
                                                 

Patients not allowed to "grieve" poor HIV/AIDS/HCV care.
                           

 2
 

 2
               

HIV/AIDS discrimination among inmates.
                                                 

Suicides secondary to HIV/AIDS infection.
                                                 

HIV/AIDS medications changed with no reason given.
                                           

No complete physical--only vital sign done.
                                                 

Corrections Officers dispensing HIV/AIDS medications.
                                           

 Staff not trained in universal precautions.
                                                 

Inexperienced HIV Care Doctors are shifted around in the penal system.
                               

 2
             

No special diets for HIV/AIDS/HCV patients.
                                       

 2
       

Nurses stonewall treatment of HIV/AIDS because of cost of medication.
                               

 2
             

No HIV/AIDS/HCV education, support and counselling.
                           

 2
 

 2
   

6
       

Staff breaches HIV/AIDS confidentiality.
                           

 2
 

 4
               

No bi-lingual medical staff.
                                       

 4
       

HIV tests not done or results not explained.
                                       

 2
       

Occurrence of unsafe sex and no latex barriers.
                             

 2

 2

 3
   

7
       

Patients deprived of HIV medications.
                               

3

3
   

 2
     

 2

Purpose for HIV medications and their side effects not explained.
                                                 

HIV/AIDS discrimination by staff.

 2
                                             

 2

Patients are rushed by medical staff.
                                       

 2
       

No diagnoses and treatment of HCV.
                           

 2
 

 2

 2
   

 3
       

"Keep On Person" medications are not allowed.
                                                 

Medical records are not released when patient is discharged.
                                                 

Clinics are crowded and limit the number of patients.
                                       

 2
       

No HIV/AIDS/HCV medications provided upon discharge.
                                                 

New inmates are placed within general population without medical screening.
                                                 


download this Graph as List   (pdf)    download map of NY State Prisons (pdf)


TAKE ACTION

The NYS Dept. of Corrections causes huge gaps in the fight to end the HIV and Hep C epidemics raging through New York State. It fails to provide the basic elements of public health program ? prevention, testing and treatment. Under current policy, state prisoners are not allowed to use condoms. Many prisoners report their requests to be tested are denied. And prisoners who have already tested positive for HIV and/or Hep C report that they can?t get regular access to treatment, even treatments that depend on regularly-administered doses.

Prison and HIV advocates demand that the NYS Department of Health address this statewide public health crisis. NYSDOH must take over responsibility for the DOCS health system.

ACT UP-NY now launches a simple web-reporting tool to gather data -- previously unavailable -- on the denial of basic prevention and treatment of HIV/Hep C in NYS prisons. Results from the data-gathering will break the silence on the vast, illegal denial of health care to people incarcerated in NYS prisons, and highlight the impact of health care denied on communities already hard-hit by the injustices of the prison system.

Report substandard health care or denial of care in New York State prisons 

 

additional links >>>

California Prison Focus

 



AIDS cases in prisons
are 5 times more than the rate
in the U.S. population.

From 1995 to 1999 the number of state & federal prisoners
testing positive for HIV rose from 1,500 to 26,000!


 

see also >>>


VICIOUS NETTIE MAYERSOHN SEEKS TO STRIP PAROLEES OF HIV PRIVACY
CALL AND STOP HER NOW!


RECENT ACT UP ACTIONS:..
AIDS Activists Throw Condoms at State Prison


IN MEMORIAM

GREG SMITH DIES IN PRISON
Greg did not have to die. AIDS bigotry and hysteria took his freedom,
and now medical neglect has killed him.



         
< Harlem Hearings



The ACT UP Prisons Committee will meet in Harlem for the next 6 months.

No Time To Lose: HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C in New York State Prisons
New York City, NY. April, 2004

Join ACT UP, a non partisan group focused on action, as we discuss
HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C in New York State Prisons. All are welcome,
upcoming meetings will be held on April 20th and May 4th at 6:00
p.m. at St. Mary's Church in Harlem, 521 West 126th St. We also
encourage your presence at a public hearing on April 30th, 2004
regarding healthcare in the New York State prison system affecting
people in the prison system and community members.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York State prisons needs immediate
attention. Between 1995 and 1999 the HIV infection rate in Federal
and State prisons rose from 1,500 to 25,757 according to the U.S.
Department of Justice. And as of 2001 New York State has the largest
known infection rate of 7,000 people.

Currently, people in prison are denied access to adequate and fair
health care in the prison system. There is a need for an increase in
education and prevention programs to end the growing threat of
transmission within the prison system and the community at large.

The current state of the NYS prison system is dangerous for people
in prison, as well as for society in general. People in prison are
at increased risk of contracting HIV and HCV while in prison, and
are then sent back into society knowing little about their disease
and how it is spread and treated. In this manner, the prison has
become a breeding ground for disease both inside and outside the
prison system.

HIV/AIDS is rapidly spreading through the Harlem community due to
the disproportionate numbers of people being released from prison
who re-locate to the community. Join us as we work with Harlem
community members and Community Based Organizations to address this
growing problem.

Ignoring the problem will simply cause it to worsen exponentially.
Steps must be taken now to prevent further loss of life. For more
information on our bi-monthly meetings, the up coming hearing or to
find out ways in which you can help, please contact, Judith
Silverstein, (914) 715-6363 or jls2113@columbia.edu .




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