The FIRST STEP Act has been touted as a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that may allow hundreds of people in federal prisons an earlier release date, including those criminalized for HIV-related crimes at the federal level.
Tim Hinkhouse discusses his life with HIV in prison, and the need to constantly educate his fellow prisoners and prison staff about the realities of his status.
"We still need people who have the passion to create avenues so our HIV-affected friends and families can hear our voices on a large scale," Tim Hinkhouse writes.
The rates of HIV among incarcerated women are higher than those of their non-incarcerated counterparts. In many prisons, information about HIV is scarce and gaps in treatment are common.
24 Years Ago, I Was Arrested for Having HIV and Unprotected Sex and Failing to Disclose: A Blog Entry by Tim Hinkhouse
"This is 288 months of my life," Tim Hinkhouse writes. "In some cases, that's more than someone who took a life on purpose."
"If we are ever going to have an HIV-free generation, we must work to keep those who are most vulnerable from falling through society's cracks," writes George M. Johnson.
Over his 30 years in and out of America's penal system, HIV-positive activist Brian Carmichael has seen some of the best and worst of what prison health care has to offer.
25 years later, Brian Carmichael says, "I don't regret anything we did there or all the trouble it caused us. My time at Vacaville showed me what one person, or a small group, can do."
Imprisonment disproportionately affects people of color, and people who experience confinement are more likely to live with HIV. These conditions contribute to higher HIV rates among African Americans, experts say.
Cycling in and out of jails contributes to the spread of HIV. Meds can keep risk of transmission low behind bars -- but risk increase upon release, when people face barriers to care and may no longer be virally suppressed.