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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

 


 

http://www.prisons.org/CCWFadv.htm

 

HIV/Hepatitis C in Prison Committee of

California Prison Focus

 

· Media Advisory · Media Advisory · Media Advisory

Att: Assignment Editor, News Desk

 

For Immediate Release:                                       November 7, 2001
For More Information Contact:                           Michelle Foy, (510) 593-7823

                                                                                    Judy Greenspan, (510) 813-4687

 

ONE YEAR AFTER NINE DEATHS AT THE CHOWCHILLA WOMEN’S PRISON,

MEDICAL 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 hepatitis C.

 

            “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 treatment.

 


            “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 treatment not less,” the advocacy letter concluded.