The art activism during the 1980s used to advocate for funding for AIDS research, treatment, and prevention made me think of other ways that HIV is spread. Diseases like Hepatitis C are spread through drug use through unsanitary needles, and this is more prevalent for low-income, homeless, and imprisoned individuals. Similar to the fact that prisons do not receive funding to give condoms to prisoners, there is no funding to give needles, wipes, sanitized injection water, or other relatively inexpensive items that would keep people safer from contracting disease.

According to the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, globally, 10-48% of male and 30-60% of female prisoners inject drugs in prison. This is caused from injection drug use and most prisoners are unaware of their contraction of the disease, and those at the highest risk of infection are women and multiple admission detainees.

While prison has the opportunity to provide the space for individuals to rehabilitate and leave healthier and more prepared to be productive after their release, only 60 out of 10 thousand prisons offer Needle Exchange programs. In addition to the stigma attached to drug use and the high risk of addiction following, inmates are rarely offered treatment. While the criminal justice system in the US needs to be completely reformed, offering needle exchange programs through federal funding, as well as subsidizing condoms in prison, would appear to be a relatively vastly less expensive way to restabilize people from prison rather than continue to incarcerate.

I would love to see art activism similar to the ACT UP and Gran Fury pieces we reviewed from the 1980s AIDs movement.

Works Cited:

Arain, Amber, Geert Robaeys, and Heino Stöver. “Hepatitis C in European Prisons: A Call for an Evidence-Informed Response.” BMC Infectious Diseases14.Suppl 6 (2014): S17. PMC. Web. 22 Oct. 2016.



2 responses »

  1. ddmaoz says:

    This reminds me of a video I saw: “Why The War on Drugs is a Huge Failure” by ‘Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell.’ In the video, they talk about how in the 1980s Switzerland responded to a heroin crisis with the approach of harm reduction. So rather than criminalize heroin drug offenders, they created a facility that ensured a safe consumption of heroin alongside counseling. This had incredible results. Instead of criminalizing, failing to educate, and thus sustaining addiction, they found a way to achieve the desired solution: reducing heroin use rates. You say it just right: prisons should provide a rehabilitative space. Beyond the fact that in many cases (minor drug offenses, for example) prison shouldn’t be the solution, I believe there needs to be a fundamental change in the way we understand and think about the role of prisons in the first place.

    Here is the video:

  2. krystalyiranli says:

    Public should definitely have an increased awareness towards disease, especially in the prison. Like you said, just like condoms are not offered in the prison, clean needle, wipes, injection waters, etc. are not offered in the prison either. This is definitely wrong because this will just make everything worse Prison should provide a rehabilitate place for drug users instead of ignore the necessity of offering sanitary appliances.

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