HIV/Hepatitis C in
Prison Committee of
· Media Advisory ·
Media Advisory · Media Advisory
Assignment Editor, News Desk
November 7, 2001
For More Information Contact:
Michelle Foy, (510) 593-7823
Judy Greenspan, (510) 813-4687
YEAR AFTER NINE DEATHS AT THE CHOWCHILLA WOMEN’S PRISON,
CARE CUTBACKS CONTINUE TO THREATEN WOMEN’S LIVES
November 7 –Women prisoner advocates warn that health care
cutbacks at the Central California Women’s Prison in
Chowchilla are life-threatening to women prisoners with HIV,
hepatitis C and other serious illnesses.
In letters to the CCWF Warden Gwendolyn Mitchell, the
HIV/Hepatitis C in Prison Committee of California Prison Focus
calls for closer monitoring, greater access to diagnostic
tests and immediate treatment for women prisoners with HIV and
“What we have seen over the past few months is a
dramatic cutback in care for the most medically vulnerable
women at CCWF,” said Judy Greenspan, HIP Committee
Chairwoman. “It has been a year since women prisoners began dying at an
alarming rate,” she stated, referring to last year’s nine
deaths of women prisoners.
“We do not want to witness another death toll at this
prison,” Greenspan added.
According to Suzanne Taviansky, California Prison Focus
has been conducting an investigation into medical care for
women prisoners at CCWF and has visited a large group of women
with HIV and hepatitis C over the past several months.
“We are alarmed at the misinformation and roadblocks
to care that women prisoners receive from doctors and other
medical staff,” Taviansky stated.
“The current hepatitis C doctor there routinely tells
women they are ‘cured’ of hepatitis C while denying them
life-extending treatment,” she added.
“Women prisoners who are undergoing chemotherapy for
hepatitis C and cancer are being punished when they are too
weak to go to work or school,” said Sarah Johnson, another
HIP Committee spokeswoman. “This refusal by the prison
administration to grant these women disabled status forces the
women to choose between saving their parole date and getting
life-saving treatment for their disease. This is an unfair and inhumane choice,” Johnson added.
In their letter to Warden Mitchell, CPF members noted
that women with HIV are no longer being monitored for disease
progression every 90 days and often have to wait over three
months to get their results from blood tests.
According to the prisoners’ rights advocates, women
with hepatitis C are being denied access to educational
material, test results, liver biopsies and medically indicated
“Overall, we are deeply
concerned about the cutback in care. . . Women
prisoners with chronic and serious illnesses like HIV and
hepatitis C must have more access to medical staff and
not less,” the advocacy letter concluded.