Demand Alabama Stop Forcing HIV Positive Inmates to Wear Armbands

Target: Kim T. Thomas, Commissioner of the Department of Corrections. Robert Bentley, Governor.

Goal: To end the policy of forcing HIV positive prisoners to wear special armbands.

There are over 200 male prisoners currently living with HIV in the state of Alabama. A regulation in the penal code of Alabama requires inmates in the Department of Corrections to wear a special white armband that distinguishes them to other inmates, prison staff and visitors to the prison. This regulation is a huge violation of the privacy of the inmates. There is no reason to force these inmates into wearing armbands as physicians have routinely stated that physical contact does not transmit HIV. Destroying inmate confidentiality in this way is a human rights violation. In some cases the armbands have been the way that prisoners have been forced to disclose their ailment to their families. Other prisoners have complained that the armband makes it difficult to sleep and causes arm rashes.

The white HIV armbands are just one part of Alabama’s discrimination against inmates living with HIV. Alabama has also practiced a policy of segregating inmates infected with HIV. This follows the irrational fear of transmission via contact, which has been disproven since the mid-1980s. These policies perpetuate incorrect stereotypes and place additional punishments on prisoners infected with HIV.

Sign this petition to demand that the Alabama prison system discontinue their practice of forcing inmates to wear armbands distinguishing them as HIV positive. Alabama must fall in line with the majority of the country and start assuring basic human rights for the inmates in their federally funded prisons.


Dear Kim T. Thomas and Governor Robert Bentley,

The policy of forcing HIV positive inmates to wear white armbands signifying their infection is a violation of their privacy. You must allow them to live the same way as other inmates. Studies conducted in the 1980s and in many years since show that HIV is not transmittable through contact. By segregating inmates and making them visibly different and foreign from the rest of the prison population, you are destroying their connection to their peers.

I demand that these prisoners are given the right to privacy and confidentiality. Let them decide how they broadcast their disease, if at all. Denying their ability to control their disease is not a right granted to the Department of Corrections. Please end this practice now.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: San Francisco Visitors & Convention Bureau

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