New York Times Examines Doctor's Experience Caring for HIV-Positive, Male Inmates at Alabama Prison
August 1, 2005
The New York Times on Monday examined the experience of a doctor hired to fix problems within the HIV unit at the Limestone Correctional Facility in Alabama. Prison Health Services, which began providing health care for the Limestone inmates as a result of the 2004 settlement of a 2002 federal lawsuit filed by 240 HIV-positive prisoners at the facility, hired Dr. Valda Chijide to serve as "statewide coordinator of inmate HIV care" (von Zielbauer, New York Times, 8/1). Under the settlement, the Alabama Department of Corrections is required to provide various improvements in living conditions and medical care for the state's HIV-positive inmates, who are housed at a 300-person HIV unit at Limestone. The department is required to allow a medical consultant to monitor the conditions of the HIV unit on a quarterly basis for two years and must hire a full-time nurse to coordinate infection control and inmate medical care (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/19). Chijide described the HIV unit as "riddled with rats, where broken windows had been replaced with plastic sheeting that was itself falling apart," the Times reports. She said nurses prescribed drugs and diagnosed inmates without her consent and her own prescriptions often were ignored. Chijide said lab tests were lost or ignored, and inmates often were assigned to the HIV unit before she was notified and "simply showed up unannounced," according to the Times. She also said none of the inmates in the unit was tested for tuberculosis or treated for hepatitis C. In addition, the HIV unit had no clerical support. "Nobody was really making an effort to run an HIV clinic the way it was supposed to," Chijide said, adding, "They would tell you one thing, but when it came down to it, they didn't provide any resources."
Then There Was One
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"Sub-Optimal" HIV Care Continues at Alabama Prison Despite Some Improvements, Court-Ordered Monitor's Report Says
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