Lawsuit alleges that Alabama discriminates against HIV-positive prisoners
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Sexually transmitted disease (STD) and HIV rates are particularly high in prison populations. According to Avert.org, America has the highest prison population in the world, as 1.5 percent of inmates are HIV positive. While this number has declined in the past few decades, the prevalence of HIV among prisoners is higher than the general population. It's important that HIV- positive prisoners get the care they need and are treated the same as all other incarcerated individuals. However, that is not always the case.
For example, a class-action suit was recently filed in Alabama which claimed that HIV- positive prisoners in the state are unfairly kept segregated from the general population. Furthermore, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claims that HIV- positive prisoners are forced to wear white armbands at all times.
"The Alabama Department of Corrections automatically excludes all prisoners with HIV from a host of rehabilitative and vocational programs that ADOC offers to all prisoners who don’t have HIV - including trade schools, work release jobs, residential drug-treatment programs for prisoners struggling with substance abuse, and programs for prisoners suffering from serious mental illness," according to a statement from the ACLU, quoted by the Post.
Prison officials claim that policy is in place for safety reasons, and that it has helped to reduce the spread of HIV in correctional facilities. However, Margaret Winter, associate director of the ACLU's National Prison Project, told the Post that claim doesn't make sense, since evidence has shown that segregating inmates with HIV is an unnecessary and ineffective step for preventing the spread of the virus.
Furthermore, Winter added that both the the Centers for Disease Control and the National Commission On Correctional Health Care both do not support the segregation of HIV- positive prisoners.
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