Women Prisoners at Niantic, CT
I am an inmate at York Correctional Institute in Niantic, Connecticut. I am also HIV+. Although we have our share of problems with issues such as proper medical attention, diet/nutrition, and support for our emotional problems related to HIV/AIDS, I have to say that from what I have read, we might be receiving somewhat better treatment than other women in correctional facilities throughout this country. We are fortunate to have doctors and interns from the nearby Yale-New Haven Medical School who come in on a weekly basis to treat those of us who are HIV+ and/or have progressed to full-blown AIDS. This program is facilitated by an infectious disease specialist, who works very hard at seeing that all of our medical needs are met in an institution that is overwhelmed with inmates infected with HIV.
Before my incarceration last year, I was running the streets hard. I didn't care about being HIV+. Addicted to heroin and cocaine, my health and well-being were not something that I gave a great deal of thought to. Once incarcerated, I began to take part in drug rehabilitation programs that were offered to us within the institution. Eventually I obtained the courage to admit not only to having the disease of addiction, but also to being HIV+. Part of that strength and courage came about when I lost my husband, who was also incarcerated, to AIDS.
York CI is a fairly new institution, having been open not quite one year, there was no HIV support group when I was first transferred here. I wrote letters to the Warden, the medical unit, the mental health unit, and civil liberties until we finally got our support group started about 2 weeks ago. There is also a second one starting soon!
Jail is what you make it to a certain degree, just as infection with HIV and AIDS is. I can only hope that my written words will inspire other women who are incarcerated across the country to act now and demand proper medical attention, proper dietary and nutritional supplements, support groups, etc., to help them to deal with incarceration and being infected with HIV and/or AIDS. Don't stop once you are released; continue to fight for your fellow inmates and women who are infected with this disease. All it takes is determination, hope, and faith.
To all women with HIV/AIDS who are incarcerated across the country: Take Care of Each Other!
This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.