AIDS In Prisons Essay Research Paper AIDS

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AIDS In Prisons Essay, Research Paper AIDS. Ryan White. Magic Johnson. Prisoners. Which of the three doesn’t fit in?In an era where we rally behind the good guy to prevail against the bad guy, prisoners have a difficult time finding their niche in the “good guy” category. The mere mentioning of the word “AIDS” strikes fear and panic into most Americans. AIDS is a killer, and one that law enforcement, doctors, or even the common man cannot stop. When someone such as Ryan White or Magic Johnson contracts the AIDS virus, they are quickly termed “victims,” and people from all walks of life line up to support them. However, a prisoner with AIDS lies in a lowly cell with no support from the public. Instead, he or she is blamed for acquiring what will ultimately be

their killer. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has struck prisons, jails, and other places of detention with particular severity. Penal institutions around the world have grossly disproportionate rates of HIV infection and of confirmed AIDS cases. In the United States in 1994, for example, there were 5.2 cases of AIDS per 1,000 prisoners, nearly six times the incidence found in the general adult population. French prisoners are estimated to be HIV-positive at a rate roughly ten times that of other adults. Prisoners in Brazil and Argentina, among other countries, have even higher levels of HIV-infection. Not only do people entering prison tend to have a relatively high incidence of HIV, prisons provide perfect breeding ground for transmission of the virus. High-risk behaviors, such as

injecting-drug use and unprotected sex, including coerced sex, are common in prisons around the world. Health care is usually substandard and sometimes nonexistent. Rather than providing prisoners with prevention tools — notably, condoms, for safe sex, and liquid bleach, for sterilizing needles and syringes — prison administrators frequently bar the entry of these items. Even HIV/AIDS education, which could help prisoners understand the invulnerability to the virus, is rarely found in the world’s penal institutions. The situation [of HIV/AIDS in prisons] is an urgent one. It involves the rights to health, security of person, equality before the law and freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment. It must be urgently addressed for the sake of the health, rights, and dignity

of prisoners; for the sake of the health and safety of the prison staff; and for the sake of the communities from which they come and to which they return. In New York State prisons, correctional officials conservatively estimate that 8,300 prisoners are living with HIV. In the New York City jails, 22% of female inmates and 13% of male inmates are estimated to be HIV-positive, totaling approximately 2,500 inmates at any given time. Nationally, the rate of confirmed AIDS cases in federal and state prisons is more than 7 times higher than in the general U.S. population or almost 23,000 prisoners. Over one-third of all prisoner deaths are from AIDS-related causes. The vast majority of prisoners living with AIDS/HIV survive their prison terms. By and large, they return to poor,

inner-city communities of color, which have been the hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic. Four million people in the United States live under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system, and approximately 1 million are currently in jail or prison. The United States imprisons its population at the highest known rate in the world. These figures, which increase daily, indicate the country’s devotion to a formidable social policy of imprisonment. Eighteen states have doubled or tripled their prison populations during the past decade, primarily because the central tactic of the United States’ “war on drugs” has been incarceration. The millions of intermittently incarcerated people in America, many of whom are illicit drug users, are among the most difficult people to reach