Pennsylvania: AIDS Education Month Begins by Saluting Effort to Solve Prison Condom Problem
June 2, 2008
Tomorrow night, former Philadelphia Commissioner of Prisons Leon King and ACT UP Philadelphia will be honored at the opening reception of Philadelphia FIGHT's annual AIDS Education Month. It is the AIDS service organization's 14th such commemoration.
An unlikely collaboration between ACT UP and King has resulted in greater availability of condoms in the city's correctional facilities. "You would think that a prison commissioner would not be on the same side, would not necessarily have common ground with an activist group," said Jane Shull, Philadelphia FIGHT's executive director.
Knowing that condoms were infrequently accessible in city jails, ACT UP members last year went into prisons with tape recorders, interviewing inmates and corrections officers about the issue. When they confronted King with interview transcripts, he expanded condom distribution and put condoms on the commissary lists so inmates could order them.
"It was a community health issue, because good prison health is actually the same as good community health, because those individuals will be returning to the community," said ACT UP's Waheedah Shabazz-El. "We're not promoting sex. We're promoting health."
"It has raised the awareness of the issue. It has changed the way people think about condoms," said King, who now works for City Council member Frank Rizzo.
Philadelphia Daily News
6.02.2008; Joshua Mellman
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.