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KCET's "Life and Times" Examines How Black, Latino Women in Los Angeles County Are Contracting HIV From Former Prison Inmates

June 27, 2006

KCET's "Life and Times" on Thursday examined how AIDS-related illnesses have become a leading cause of death among black and Latino women in their 20s and 30s in Los Angeles County, Calif., in part because many of them contract HIV from partners who have been released from prison. Women traditionally have not been seen as part of a group at high risk of contracting HIV, Felix Capro, associate medical director for HIV services at AltaMed Health Services, said. HIV/AIDS advocates recently have "made a connection" between the spread of HIV among black and Latino women previously believed to be at low risk and men who have been incarcerated, KCET reports. According to Alicia Avalos -- project director of Women Alive, a not-for-profit organization for HIV-positive women -- prison inmates often engage in high-risk behavior, such as having unprotected sex, sharing haircutting tools, sharing needles and sharing tattooing equipment. When the inmates are released, they bring the risks home with them, KCET reports. Proposed legislation that would require HIV testing for California inmates upon release was suspended after some HIV/AIDS advocates said prisoners also should be tested upon entry so they can receive antiretroviral drugs while in prison if they are found to be HIV-positive, according to KCET. Costs became too high when HIV testing upon entry into prison was added to the proposed legislation, and the bill was removed from consideration, Avalos said. Nevertheless, the controversy over the bill "created a dialogue where there wasn't a dialogue" on the issue, according to Tony Wafford, project and program director for the Palms Residential Care Center, which provides residence to HIV-positive people (Guinyard, "Life and Times," KCET, 6/22).

The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. A transcript of the segment is available online.

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