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Prison Health Care: Activist Campaign Targets Hepatitis, HIV Care for Prisoners and Continuity of Care After Release

By Laura McTighe

November 23, 2004

Access to Health Care for the Incarcerated (a working group of the AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition, ATAC), is fighting for the health care rights of prisoners with hepatitis C and HIV. While many states have adopted HIV and hepatitis C treatment guidelines, prisons often have huge discrepancies between official policy and actual practice of medical care. Many prisons, for example, use restrictions to limit treatment eligibility and avoid the cost of medically necessary care. Prisoners who are able to access medical care are rarely given education about the side effects of treatment, authorization to enable them to form support groups, or exemptions from work requirements, even when their side effects are too severe. When released, prisoners are often sicker than when they entered prison, and have no referrals for medical care, housing or drug treatment.

Activists are needed to help force medical practices in prison to meet national standards for treatment and care. People can contribute in many ways, including strategy coordination, information sharing, advocacy, and training for allied individuals, organizations, and communities. The working group, including prison activists, health-care activists, ex-offenders and community leaders, will hold a strategy meeting in Spring 2005.

For more information and to learn how you can help, contact Laura McTighe, Philadelphia FIGHT, 1233 Locust St., 5th floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107 -- or Rob Mealey, SMC Box 3716, 1 Winooski Park, Colchester, VT 05439. You can also email the team through

ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 2004 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.

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