After years of being a brother and friend to others, sharing tearful moments with them, I find myself alone in a system that does not care.
This article was sent to us by the author and was previously published in an inmate publication at the Midstate Correctional Facility in Marcy, New York. The "Editor's Note" that follows was written by the editor of that publication.
I am a 42-year-old Hispanic male from the East New York section of Brooklyn, serving three years to life for the sale of narcotics. However, I am not just a Hispanic male serving three years, because upon completion of my last sentence I tested for HIV/AIDS and now am a prisoner with AIDS (PWA). This seems like a double punishment for my past, which has led me back and forth to prison for the last fifteen years of my life.
Now, having given moral support to my peers who had tested positive, I find myself sentenced with this spreading disease, which I believe I contracted in 1990. For years I was afraid to be tested!
The reality I now face is that I pray daily that I will be free, outside, before my day of judgment arrives. After years of being a brother and friend to others, sharing tearful moments with them, I find myself alone in a system that does not care.
It once seemed so easy to give comfort to a peer with HIV/AIDS, making them feel welcomed in what may have been their last days. But it's a whole lot different when it's you, and there is really no one to talk to or anyone who cares, especially when you yourself are trying to understand, "why me?"
It's obviously true that AIDS doesn't discriminate, but this makes doing time that much worse. I feel the need to discuss my concerns openly with others, and in this system I have nowhere to turn, or no one to talk with. It's difficult for me to accept that I am a PWA, so how can I expect those around me to accept it. Rejection is not easily handled, especially when I am trying to deal with the fear of surviving to see the streets again.
I am not looking for any sympathy for the mistakes I made or my bad decisions. I only blame myself. But what I am asking for is a program within the system that will address my needs so I may enjoy what time I am granted.
Editor's Note: We were touched when we read this article. It is vitally relevant to what we believe this publication is about, and that it touches the lives of so many of those confined in these places. Billions of dollars are poured into this system each year. Why is it that Mr. Hidalgo, and all the others in his position, have no one they can really turn to for nurturing and counsel? Are they no longer worthy of consideration, or even a genuine opportunity for self-expression? If so, then neither are the rest of us, are we?
This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.