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April 23, 2013 03:05pm
AHF Against AB 999
Source: Letters to the Editor
by: Mo Reese

Condom Op-Ed: Open Letter to AIDS Healthcare Foundation - Why Doesn't AIDS Healthcare Foundation Support AB 999?

AB 999 Prisoner Protections for Family and Community Health Act was introduced by Assemblymember Rob Bonta of California's 18th District on February 22, 2013. This bill "requires that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDRC) develop a five-year plan to extend the availability of condoms in all California prisons; commencing on January 1, 2015, that no less than five prisons be incorporated into the program each year; and develop comprehensive plan including every California prison by the final year."

According to the bill, "The HIV infection rate in prison is documented to be five times higher than in the general population. Most experts believe the actual infection rate to be far higher than what is documented. By not distributing condoms in our prisons, we are not only ignoring the realities of prison, but we are abandoning the predominantly low-income and minority populations outside of prison who will eventually have the most contact with these former inmates."

As stated in the bill, "According to CDRC's data, an average of 1,240 inmates are infected with HIV/AIDS in California's prisons. CDRC estimates the cost of care for these inmates at over $18 million. Because CDRC does not require HIV testing, the true number of infected inmates is unknown. According to the University of California, San Francisco, the rate of HIV infection among inmates is eight to ten times higher than among the general population."

After reading AB 999, I was surprised to see that AIDS Healthcare Foundation was not listed as one of the registered supporters of the bill. I want to ask AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein, why doesn't AHF support AB 999? Does AHF not believe that condoms in California prisons would help cut HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) rates amongst permanent and soon to be release prisoners? Does AHF not believe untested prisoners that have HIV or other STIs upon release are not a public health risk? Why has AHF chosen to attack the self regulated adult industry with AB 332, instead of putting their full support behind AB 999? Assemblymember Isadore Hall III of California's 64th District, introduced AB 332 just one week before AB 999 was introduced. Was AHF not aware that a bill pertaining to condoms in prisons was being worked on? Doesn't AHF believe it's inhumane to deny prisoners protection from HIV and other STIs? If so, why wouldn't they fully support behind AB 999?

I am not a lawyer, or a politician, just an average guy that works in the adult entertainment industry. Adult performers and the industry as a whole have been referred to as a public health risk by AIDS Healthcare Foundation. I believe that AB 999 is a bill that would help stop the spread of HIV and other STIs that are contracted in prison and spread to the general public. As a California resident, tax payer, and adult industry member I want to know - why doesn't AIDS Healthcare Foundation support AB 999?

You can read the full text of AB 999 here http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/bill.PDF

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