US: Failure to Deliver HIV Services in Louisiana Jails

US: Failure to Deliver HIV Services in Louisiana Jails


When I was an iso[lation] or in jail, my HIV
medicines were so sporadic that I even had to tell the captain “hey I gotta stop taking this, because, yeah you know it’s doing me no good in fact it’s doing me worse.” Louisiana has one of the highest HIV rates of new infection in the US, and within the United States, Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly twice the national average. The same people who are very heavily policed in this society, people who use drugs, sex workers, African Americans, Latinos, people who are disproportionately represented in jails are also disproportionately burdened by
HIV. In the parish jails which are the county jails people at risk of HIV or living with HIV are not getting the services that they need. Well I was in there for about a good three four days, then finally they came in and told me that I would have to call my mom to send my meds Because they couldn’t get my meds
for me. But then I couldn’t call mom because see, I had been in there and I didn’t
have privileges to use the phone. The sad part about many of these cases is that are for very minor crimes, nonviolent crimes, small drug possessions, disorderly conduct, shoplifting. It’s very important with HIV that you stay on your medication regimen and that you take it every day and going to jail is one of the most disruptive events to your health when you have HIV. As you take your medications not only is your immune system getting better and able to take care of its own body, but you’re also decreasing the amount of virus in your body therefore making it less likely that that you’re going to spread it or transmit it to someone else. I have clients who are in a cycle of jail, I’m
out, back in jail, I’m out, I can’t find a job, or go back to jail and in that cycle
it’s nearly impossible to work with the jail systems to get that client their medication. I said in Orleans Parish jail I was there approximately 44 days before I received my first pill but at that time my body became
resistant to the medicine and I started getting sick. I had diarrhea bad, I couldn’t hold nothing down like everything I ate I immediately ran to
the bathroom. I was vomiting real bad. I didn’t see a doctor until I was released and I was there for seven months and once you were off your medications and develop resistance than the cost of everything goes up. The testing goes up as well as
the medications that are available to you. Now HIV treatment is expensive but
under international human rights law as well as US domestic law it is an
obligation on the part of the parish jails. Lafayette Parish jail has
developed a model for HIV testing that should be expanded throughout the state. Every inmate is offered an HIV test and most inmates accept the offer. They are then shown to be positive they meet with the medical staff and develop a plan for obtaining treatment. The bigger societal issue is that those individuals are all, you know, almost ninety-five percent of all
people go back into society at some point that are in jails and prisons and
without that knowledge of their condition, then they’re spreading their
disease to the rest of the public. It is imperative that Louisiana parish jails
implement a routine HIV testing program for inmates and make sure that they have a system for connecting that person if they test positive to care in the community.

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About the Author: Sam Caldwell

4 Comments

  1. Slavery been over for a long time. Lol. But love this video. One of my favorites. They didn't get there medicine. Good. Who cares. There jailbirds anyway. No matter what there crime was

  2. That is so sad…but it is true, people in jail with HIV, usually discovers it while in jail, and never receives any treatment till released…WE NEED TO STOP THIS

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