Palm Beach Post Profiles Physician’s Donation of Expertise, Supplies To Fight the Spread of HIV in Caribbean, African Prisons
The Palm Beach Post on Sunday profiled the work of John May -- chief medical officer for Coconut Creek, Fla.-based Armor Correctional Health Services and founder of Health Through Walls, which brings "support and supplies" to prisons in the Caribbean and Africa to fight the spread of HIV. May since 2000 has worked with nongovernmental organizations in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Tanzania to "navigate the gaps and roadblocks of those countries' developing and inconsistent bureaucracies," according to the Post. May's "simple [and] not expensive" approach includes asking incoming inmates 10 questions that aim to determine if they have a "communicable disease or chronic illness," Martha Butler de Lister, former head of the Dominican's Republic's AIDS program and current head of the group Genesis Foundation, said. May since 2000 has brought sterilizing equipment and an X-ray machine to the La Victoria prison outside Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The prison -- which houses 4,000 inmates in a space built for 1,000 people and is visited twice weekly by commercial sex workers, as well as wives and husbands of inmates -- ran out of condoms about five months ago. The prison's physician last month told May that inmates are tested for HIV regularly and that there are no HIV/AIDS cases in the jail. However, May found one HIV-positive person after testing 14 inmates. The country's Presidential Council for AIDS subsequently announced plans to test all inmates in the prison for HIV. "The strategy now is to focus on a few patients ... and demonstrate appropriate care and service for the other patients," May said (Barton, Palm Beach Post, 10/1).
Palm Beach Post Examines HIV/AIDS Support Groups at Local Prison
The Post on Monday examined HIV/AIDS support groups at the South Bay Correctional Institution in South Bay, Fla., which public health officials have called "a model for HIV education in any setting." Florida requires HIV education for new inmates, and some prisons in the state continue courses, but many peer education programs "have fallen prey to budget cuts," the Post reports. However, the peer education program at privately run South Bay since 1997 has certified 500 men to be HIV educators in the prison, and the program has a waiting list. Inmate Alfred Pinder also chairs the Snuggle Care project, which produces denim quilts for hospitalized children living with HIV or another chronic illness, according to the Post. Florida, which has the second highest number of HIV-positive inmates in the country, in 2002 began requiring all inmates to be tested for the virus before leaving prison. State Sen. Frederica Wilson (D) said she plans to introduce a bill allowing condoms to be provided in jails (Barton, Palm Beach Post, 10/2).