Hep C treatment in prison

Good news: The Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) has changed its criterion regarding who can get hep C treatment. It was given to inmates with Stage 4 cirrhosis, but now inmates with HIV and minimal liver damage are eligible to receive hep C treatment. I am grateful for this change. Please pass on the good news.

—Daniel Brown
Loretto, Pennsylvania

A bright light in a dark place

After being away from this correctional institution for 10 months, I had four issues waiting for me in the mailroom, and one more came shortly after. Thank you for keeping them coming! I was diagnosed back in 2013. It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years already. Anyway, thanks to POSITIVELY AWARE, I am much more knowledgeable about the disease. At least now I can ask informed questions when I go in to see the DOH physician every 90 days. I can tell by the look on their faces that they are somewhat surprised when I ask certain questions. I never reveal to them my source of “good information.” I love it. Keep the info coming, please! Your magazine is a bright light in such a dark place. My numbers are excellent, undetectable viral load, and over 1,000 T-cells. My health care provider just recently switched me from Complera to Odefsey all because I asked about it after reading about the lower risk for liver damage in one of your publications. So hopefully the next time I give blood my numbers will be the same or better. Unfortunately, here in prison those “thriving” with HIV are highly stigmatized. Not just by other inmates but by some staff members as well. I find that I kind of have to hide my issues of POSITIVELY AWARE from prying eyes for fear of being stigmatized and consequently treated as a leper.

—Name withheld
Malone, Florida

Positively Aware The Reunion Project Seattle

The Reunion Project

I would like to get more information on your event to be held in Seattle. I have been living with HIV since 1984 and lived six years with zero T-cells until triple therapy was tested and rolled out.

I was sent home to pass twice from the hospital in the mid-90’s. I am currently fully employed (over 20 years), fully engaged in a separate but full life. I am reminded every waking moment of the battle and challenge of HIV as the scar I live with is blindness.

When I was healthy enough to get back into living after six years of waiting to die, I was faced with learning how to engage with the world as a blind person. The blindness has become a constant factor leading to my strong spirit of independence, but also my sense of social isolation. I spend much time educating the sighted world on the abilities and strengths I bring to most situations. I spend an equal amount of energy letting people know how they can assist without victimizing me.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Information was sent to Mark for The Reunion Project Seattle, which took place August 18–20 after this issue went to press. More information is at tpan.com/reunion-project.

Advocacy behind bars

I am a 32-year-old gay male. I am also living with HIV and currently incarcerated in the Idaho State prison system. I am fighting the stigma of HIV in the eyes of those who would have me segregated because they fear the virus inside of me. But I refuse to hide the fact I’ve had HIV for seven, going on eight years and I am healthier than they are. I am working with medical staff from Corizon Health Service, who provide an HIV education program in prison. Yet, they will not even provide vitamins that I should be taking. Their excuse is, “We sell multivitamins on commissary, and therefore we have made them available to you. There has been no study done that shows that vitamins help HIV patients.” Despite the fact the vitamins cost nearly $20 and I am indigent. Even when I was working in the kitchen, I was paid under $15 a month. I am writing for a subscription free to HIV-positive people, for the info I need to continue my advocacy with Corizon and the Idaho Correctional System. Thank you.

—Brandon Pierce
Orofino, Idaho