Bill Would Require Prisons To Provide HIV Counseling, Prevention Education, Condoms
A bill (HR 178) introduced in January by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) would require prisons to provide HIV counseling and prevention education efforts and to distribute "sexual barrier protection devices" to inmates in federal prisons, the Oakland Tribune reports. The legislation also would require officials to regularly survey state and county correctional facilities to determine inmate groups most affected by HIV/AIDS and to develop strategies to treat HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in prisons (Gokhman, Oakland Tribune, 3/7). Although some jurisdictions, including San Francisco, allow condoms in prisons, most states classify condoms as contraband. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, AIDS prevalence among inmates is triple that in the U.S. population as a whole. In addition, black inmates are 3.5 times as likely as white inmates and 2.5 times as likely as Latino inmates to die from AIDS-related illnesses (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/19/06). About 25% of HIV-positive people in the U.S. annually pass through correctional facilities, according to BJS. Lee at a press conference last week said, "People need to understand when a prisoner is infected, we are all affected" (Oakland Tribune, 3/7). The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security (HR 178 actions, 3/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.