Target: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards
Goal: Provide stronger HIV services and testing for prison inmates.
The state of Louisiana has failed to provide basic HIV services to inmates at parish jails, which has endangered both the infected individuals and the communities they return to. Human Rights Watch released a report entitled “Paying the Price: Failure to Deliver HIV Services in Louisiana Parish Jails” which concluded that there is inadequate, and often nonexistent HIV testing and treatment for inmates in Louisiana jails. Louisiana is also notorious for having the highest incarceration rate of any state in the U.S., which makes this lack of HIV services more alarming.
Megan McLemore, the senior health researcher at the Human Rights Watch, has stated that, “The lack of treatment affects both people with HIV and the entire community, because whoever goes into jail comes back out.” The study concluded that only five of the 104 parish jails offer HIV tests to inmates as recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report has also stated that even when HIV treatment is provided, it is often delayed or interrupted. Many inmates reported that they would go months without medication and would emerge from prison ill and weak. Some of the data in the report included Louisiana’s incarceration rate per 100,000 people, which stood at 847 people compared to the national average of 478. It also included the number of HIV infections per 100,000 people, which was at 37 people compared to the national average of 16 people.
This lack of care in treating HIV is very dangerous and has put many lives at risk. Sign the petition below to demand that these prisons provide strong HIV treatment and testing for their inmates.
Dear Governor Edwards,
Proper testing and care for victims of HIV is something that should always be taken seriously. However, the HIV services provided in the prisons of Louisiana, if present at all, have clearly failed and have now put many lives at risk. The report by Human Rights Watch has revealed some shocking statistics about how strongly your government has neglected these services.
The lack of care put into providing prison inmates with HIV services is a serious violation of human rights. Proper treatment is essential for a disease as deadly as HIV. Inmates have stated that they would go months without receiving medication. Many have reported being terribly ill upon their release, and some have died soon after.
Not only will this disregard for basic HIV treatment continue to harm prison inmates, it will also affect the communities that they return to upon their release. Louisiana has managed to spend billions of dollars on their prisons, yet they have been unable to provide adequate HIV services for their inmates. This negligence is unacceptable for both human rights and for public health and safety. We demand that you provide inmates with the HIV testing and treatment that they so desperately need.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Chad Brownstein