September 20, 2006
Inmates in the Limestone Prison AIDS unit report conditions there have improved since 2002, when the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) sued the Alabama prison system and prison health care provider NaphCare alleging poor medical care. Under the settlement, NaphCare was replaced by Prison Health Services (PHS) as the system's medical provider in November 2003.
Last year, there were three deaths among inmates with HIV/AIDS, compared to the 12 deaths SCHR attorneys reported in 2001. Prison officials said the correct number of deaths for 2001 was nine.
"Generally, we receive our antiretroviral medication on time," said Eric Howard, one of five inmate plaintiffs SCHR represented, according to the Athens News-Courier.
The food "is a lot better than it used to be," said Howard. "We get double portions because of the toxicity of the medication," as well as between-meal snacks of bologna, milk or hot-dogs, he said.
Limestone has a registered staff dietitian who consults with University of Alabama-Birmingham about inmates' nutritional requirements, said Ruth Naglich, associate commissioner of the Alabama prison health system. AIDS medications can interfere with the absorption of calories and nutrients, so HIV-positive inmates are given more food and frequent meals, she said.
Medical care is "100 percent better" since the suit, said Ivory Cooper. "They're seeing to my needs. If I complain, they take care of it," though he did note that since the settlement inmates trained for hospice care are no longer allowed to provide it. This is because such care is considered medical care and thus is "nurse-driven, rather than inmate-driven," said Brandon Kindard, a registered nurse and PHS' regional clinical manager.
The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our content and advertising policies.