April 3, 2006
Less than half of Nevada inmates known to be HIV-positive are receiving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), though Department of Corrections officials (DOC) say no infected prisoners are being denied treatment. Advocates, however, are skeptical.
Inmates often refuse to take ARVs because of side effects or they stop taking the drugs once they feel better, said Karen Walsh, health information officer with the department. "It's sad," she said. "You can't force someone to take medications. Anything like HIV medications or insulin will get filled even if [prison staff members] have to get them at a local pharmacy."
However, the Diversity Leadership Institute often receives reports from former or current inmates about their inability to obtain medication, said Consuelo McCuin, DLI's executive director.
Peck cited other alleged DOC failures that show inmates are not getting their medicine properly. "The statistics, sadly, are consistent with what we know about the way in which the entire prison health care system is run."
Of the state's 12,000 inmates, 94 men and 23 women are known to be HIV-positive. Of them, just 52 were prescribed ARVs in November and December. In January, that number slipped to 50. Of the $30 million DOC spends on medical services annually, about $480,000 goes to provide HIV medications.
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