Surviving Hepatitis C in AZ Jails, State Prisons, and Federal Detention Centers.

Surviving Hepatitis C in AZ Jails, State Prisons, and Federal Detention Centers.
The "Hard Time" blogspot is a volunteer-run site for the political organization of people with Hepatitis C behind and beyond prison walls, their loved ones, and whomever cares to join us. We are neither legal nor medical professionals. Some of us may organize for support, but this site is primarily dedicated to education and activism; we are fighting for prevention, detection, treatment, and a cure for Hepatitis C, particularly down in the trenches where most people are dying - in prison or on the street... Join us.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mother and Goliath: The AZ Department of Corrections.

So, we can use legal assistance on this if any help is out there, but I'm afraid it won't come in time to get Davon treatment now. Therefore, we still need everyone's help putting pressure on the Governor and the ADC.

Julie had a phone appointment with Davon's prison doctor Friday; it's just taken me awhile to figure out the software to save and upload it for you. This is unedited, so be prepared for Julie to really articulate herself on the whole thing after she hangs up.

I think she did a pretty good job dealing with these guys, frankly. And Davon's doctor has some studying up to do. He isn't current on his practices, and doesn't seem to know anything about Davon except a few notes he jotted down to justify refusing him treatment for Hep C. How can he swear that Davon isn't in any kind of imminent medical danger when he doesn't even know if he was ever tested for HIV? (He was, by the way, and needs to be tested again. The original test was negative, though. We knew that already, ourselves...)

Making sure Davon was tested for HIV and other forms of hepatitis (which they, on their own initiative, vaccinated him against) was one of the first things Julie did when she began to learn about this disease. That's a standard protocol in the community these days, so the doctor's ignorance about whether it was even done is both an indicator that he hasn't read the chart very well, and a sign that it isn't standard practice for the prison to do that with everyone who tests HCV +.

In any case, his word about how well Davon is doing can't be trusted. Otherwise, we would have both been celebrating the news from this call, not swearing at the end. Every test that might substantiate his health status is being delayed until October because "it isn't indicated" right now (by the tests that were done nine months ago). Despite their lack of current, critical information, the "Hepatitis C Committee" reviewed Davon's case last week and also decided that "treatment isn't indicated". Based on whose account of his medical condition, I wondered? This condescending osteopath's who doesn't even know his patients? This man tried to justify the possibility that Davon may not have been tested for HIV by stating that he wouldn't have been tested if he didn't ask.

Should he really have to? He's disabled by virtue of his mental illness, and beaten down by the discouragement of trying to get help and being ignored. His mom has to fight him to get him to put in a health request - he doesn't expect them to do anything for him. They don't.

What is the ADC exposing the public health sector to, by botching Hep C and HIV treatment in prison this? They're following guidelines that were developed a decade ago - the research out now totally contradicts half of what these guys try to convince Julie of. And it's very clear that Davon's best chances of ever ridding himself of this virus is before further organ damage occurs, not afterwards, as the ADC stipulates.

The reason that October is the magic month to do further labs on Davon, by the way, may have to do with the ADC's budget cycle. It really means that nothing will be done until November, when they have new money again. They've probably spent their medical budget for the year on 911 calls to prisons where they don't really have 24-hour clinical staff on site, as they suggest that they do.

Note that what the doctor is telling Julie, by the way, is not only that Davon won't be getting any treatment right now for his Hep C, but that he won't be recommended for medical release to the AZ Board of Executive Clemency, either.

That makes your appeals to them all the more important. Take the time to write a letter. Insist that these young guys with a shot at responding to treatment get to choose whether or not to go through it. Assert that this community's standards of care are outdated, as are the ADC's. Remind them that prisoner health is public health, and that withholding treatment for infectious diseases running rampant through the prisons puts us all at risk. Please remember, as always, to cc both the Governor and Julie ( on that, too.

(The video is too long to actually post here, so I'm giving you the Youtube, still too long. I'll keep working on this...)

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