Louisiana HIV & Incarceration Rates Endangering All Citizens & Local Communities

A report recently released by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch revealed that many of Louisiana’s jails have failed to provide inmates with proper HIV testing and treatment, which could very well be linked to the state’s high infection rates overall. This—along with the state’s high incarceration rates—has led some to call Louisiana “ground zero” for exacerbating the consequences of failing to deliver HIV services in parish jails, as this failure is also affecting the local communities that inmates return to.


Specifically, the report, titled “Paying the Price: Failure to Deliver HIV Services in Louisiana Parish Jails,” indicates that only five of the 100+ parish jails offer routine testing for HIV infection. Most of the state’s 20,000+ people living with HIV are located in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport.


Testing Without Treatment

And what about after the testing? Even those jails where inmates are tested aren’t necessarily delivering effective treatment; in fact, in many instances, treatment is either denied or delayed significantly, and there is no care for inmates that return to the local communities. Some of these inmates reported going for months without medication, leaving jail extremely ill, with some even dying after being released. Even a mother of four who was incarcerated was specifically told that a family member should get her medications to her while in prison because she “[wasn’t] going to get them here.” Experts have identified that one of the number one threats to people already undergoing care for HIV is going to jail.


The Cost is Prohibitive

Directors at these Parish Correctional Centers have identified cost as the leading issue, indicating that there would be little to no point in testing inmates if they cannot afford to treat those identified as HIV-positive. However, the jails also aren’t taking advantage of federal AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, which help pay for these medications.


But can cost be used as an excuse when taxpayers are already paying billions to fund these prisons, and returning inmates sick with HIV is a serious public health and human rights concern? Many have pointed out that the government is obligated to provide medical care to people living with HIV in these parish jails.


Harrell & Nowak

There are instances when diseases—and a failure to test for and treat those diseases—constitute personal injury. An institution which places others forced to live there at risk of contracting a deadly disease through its negligence can be held liable for these actions.


Having spent years litigating against the bad actors and negligent parties who place the public at risk, the attorneys of Harrell & Nowak can be your injury lawyers in New Orleans, Metairie, Kenner, and other areas throughout Louisiana. Contact us today for a free consultation.