Monday, November 19, 2012

Isolation of HIV Positive Inmates: Not based on Science

The Alabama Department of Corrections has a policy to isolate all HIV positive prisoners. HIV positive inmates are housed in special dorms with air conditioning and a private cell. However, there are restrictions. Inmates eat alone, not in the cafeteria and must  wear white plastic armbands identifying them as H.I.V. positive. Also, inmates are not allowed to work around food. Read about it here in this NY Times Article.

I suspect  that any infectious diseases specialist will tell you that this isolation policy of HIV positive inmates is misguided. HIV is not spread by casual contact or by airborne transmission. Prison officials fear that HIV will spread through consensual sex, through rape or through blood when inmates give one another tattoos.

For a data driven approach to limit the spread of HIV, either in prison or elsewhere, diagnose the disease early by offering voluntary, accessible testing and treat to prevent disease transmission and disease progression.

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