Readers write about being inside

ACT UP artwork

Thank you for everything that Positively Aware does for the community.

—Handmade Card (above) sent by

William, West Virginia 

‘Justice involved’ is not just

Thank you for being sensitive to the plight of the incarcerated for using a seemingly politically correct term as “justice involved.” Frankly, it is not a term any consciously aware imprisoned person would use. As a gay man who’s been unjustly incarcerated in California for 20 years, on charges for which I am not guilty, I will tell you that there’s absolutely nothing “just” about their so-called “justice.” It remains the same good ol’ boy system, essentially unchanged since the days of slavery. We are dealing with an injustice system which is blatantly evil, and so I call for the use of terms which more accurately reflect the truth of the matter instead of always attempting to acquiesce and sanitize it.

—Christopher, California

Associate Editor Enid Vázquez responds: Bless you. I have hated the term “justice involved” from the first time I heard it. Language changes over time and we get better at it. So thank you for starting this conversation. Please stay in touch and help keep us on the right path.


I had to write concerning HIV in prison. I have a positive and a negative message.

Marion County Jail neglected to give me my HIV meds for five and a half months of my seven-month stay at their fine facility. By the time I was sent to prison, I was in the AIDS range. I’m looking for a lawyer to help me. I need one, if possible. 

On a positive note, by the time I was sent to prison and put on the proper meds for my HIV progression, I saw my levels starting to decline. Within a year, I was back to undetectable and gaining weight. 

People incarcerated can thrive with proper help and resources. Taking our meds is so important and I thank god we have access to them.

Still alive. 

—Katie, Florida

Saving lives

I am writing to request that you please ensure I have an active subscription to your periodical. I am an HIV-positive prisoner in the Colorado Department of Corrections and depend on your publication to stay current with my healthcare. I appreciate your generosity! It saves lives.

—Michael, Colorado

Wake up, youth

I am an incarcerated convict of 28 years in the Florida Department of Corrections, where there is no parole. (Parole was abolished in Florida in 1983). Every life sentence is a natural life sentence. 

I have been in prison since I was 22 years old and now, I am 50. But early on into this bid, a fellow convict turned me on to Positively Aware as an educational tool, and ever since I have been reading it and a part of the Positively Aware family. The knowledge, wisdom, and understanding PA has given me of infectious diseases and treatments is gold. 

Sad to say, we have had a youth explosion in the Florida prison system in the last 10 years, and when it came my turn to pass Positively Aware on to the next generation of inmates, the youth were not as receptive. Somebody had spread the word that Positively Aware was an HIV magazine, or that HIV was strictly a gay disease. Since the majority of Florida youth prisoners are in some type of gang, they were scared to death to risk getting violated by their gang over reading the magazine. Well, two or three fights later, two or three hundred arguments later, here I stand writing this to the youth of the Florida prison system: Wake up!

—Anthawn, Florida

Editor’s note: We think “violated” as used here means given a penalty.

I am a subscriber to TPAN and I greatly appreciate the information and HIV/AIDS education and awareness highlights.

TPAN has greatly aided me in doing my part in educating buddies and cellies on HIV/AIDS care, risks and treatments as well as trying to curb the ’80s and ’90s stigma of being poz.

I have been positive for 28 years and I’m 45. And being a gay man in prison is difficult enough and much more so being poz. But with the help of the articles and scientific proof I have used TPAN to battle the early epidemic stigma and mentality of other offenders here in prison in 2022.

Enclosed is a photo I’d truly love to be added to A Day with HIV [Positively Aware’s annual anti-stigma campaign]. I’m just hanging out with a friend. I am on the right. Always open about who I am—a strong, open and informative survivor of life who just happens to have HIV!

I greatly appreciate all you and TPAN for everything. Thank you!

—Joshua, Missouri