Friday, January 23, 2004

Good News/Bad News

Limestone's HIV-positive inmates admitted to education, work programs
Classes now open to HIV inmates

Buried deep in both of these articles is a one-sentence acknowledgement that this good news, this display of enlightenment, applies only to male prisoners. Female prisoners with HIV are still segregated in Alabama prisons, barred from attending GED classes, drug treatment groups, or job training. The Alabama Department of Corrections doesn't seem to see any pressing reason to change that policy, probably because, unlike the men, the women aren't suing in federal court.

This story's also been covered extensively in the gay press, for example, here. The gay press articles do mention in the lead sentence that HIV+ women continue to be denied access to education, but what they leave out is a lot weirder.

"Alabama still remains out of the mainstream in housing HIV-positive prisoners separately from others," cautions Here's what they don't say, courtesy of the Birmingham News:
Less than a year ago, an AIDS doctor visited the facility and found deplorable conditions. Sick prisoners living in a vermin-infested warehouse were denied basic medicines and, at times, left to die by an overwhelmed medical staff, according to a report filed last year in the federal lawsuit.
The gay press usually does a great job of covering AIDS advocacy issues. So how come, reading their coverage, it would be easy to come away with the impression that the worst thing that was happening to those inmates was the denial of GED classes, and that their greatest lingering problem is that they're not being given HIV-negative cellmates?