ACLU Blasts Ohio Correction Center for Refusing to Administer HIV Medication to Inmate

January 16, 2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COLUMBUS, OH - The Franklin County Correction Center is refusing to administer time-sensitive HIV medication to an inmate serving time in the facility, ignoring a letter sent by the American Civil Liberties Union informing administrators at the facility of the inmate's condition and need for the medication, the ACLU said today.

""We have done everything in our power to make sure this inmate received proper medical care.  Yet he's been in custody for two days and still hasn't received his medication,"" said James Esseks, litigation director for the ACLU's AIDS Project.  ""What possible explanation could the jail have for jeopardizing this man's life?""

The inmate, who does not wish to be identified by name to protect his right to confidentiality, is serving a 10-day jail sentence for driving under the influence.  Prior to reporting to the facility to begin his sentence, the inmate contacted the ACLU after he was told by the facility not to bring his medications to the jail.

""This is very serious,"" said Howard Grossman, M.D., a highly respected HIV expert in New York City.  ""A lapse in treatment could cause him to become resistant in only a matter of days and then the drugs won't work.""

While there is no cure for HIV, medical experts agree that combination drug therapy taken on a strict time regimen is the best course of treatment for those suffering with the disease.  

""My son is willing to pay for his crime, but serving a short jail sentence shouldn't be life threatening,"" said the Columbus man's mother.  ""My son is alive today only because he has been extremely careful in taking his medications.  I'm really afraid of what this interruption will do to his health.""     

The ACLU sent a letter to the facility on the day the inmate began his sentence, January 14th, notifying the authorities of the inmate's condition and outlining the facility's legal obligations to provide the necessary medical treatment.  The ACLU also called the facility and was assured by administrators that the inmate would receive his treatment in a timely manner.  

The text of the ACLU's letter (with the inmate's name redacted) is online at /cpredirect/11537

According to a recent survey by the ACLU of HIV service providers around the country, lapses in medical treatment are far too common for inmates in jails and prisons around the country.  For more information about civil rights violations of those suffering from HIV/AIDS, visit www.aclu.org/hivaids.

Statistics image