Two Former Inmates of N.J. Jail Claim HIV/AIDS Treatment Was Denied; Jail Under Review by Inspector General’s Office
Two former immigration detainees held at the Passaic County Jail in New Jersey have said they were regularly denied adequate HIV/AIDS treatment during their prison terms, the Bergen Record reports. An unnamed 41-year-old Jamaican man who spent five years in prison at three facilities -- including Passaic's jail from February to May of this year -- said he often encountered lapses in his drug regimen because of long delays in the transfer of his medical records. A New York University legal clinic took up the man's case, saying that the jail initially refused to let the man take his pills at 12-hour intervals and that he had become resistant to many HIV/AIDS medications. In addition, an unnamed 36-year-old man from Guyana who was in Passaic's jail from December 2003 to April 2004 said he missed nearly three weeks of treatment after delays in obtaining his medical record from Rikers Island prison in New York City and delays in receiving medical examinations at Passaic. He also said guards would ignore his requests to see a doctor and would openly talk about his HIV status. Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale said he never heard of the cases but added that he had "full confidence" in Charles Meyers, the jail's warden, and its medical staff, according to the Record. "This is two people you're talking to me about, two people out of 1,700; I think I'm doing pretty good," Speziale said. He added that guards have the right to know who is HIV-positive to protect themselves. The Passaic jail is one of five facilities nationwide being reviewed by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General. In July, Speziale told auditors conducting the review to leave and said he would stop housing detainees. He was scheduled to meet with federal immigration officials in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday (Loder, Bergen Record, 8/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.