States to integrate HIV-positive prisoners

Hands on prison bars
No HIV+ segregation

Alabama and South Carolina will stop segregating HIV-positive prisoners, joining 48 other states that have ended the once-common practice, under two recently announced legal settlements.

In Alabama, the settlement ends a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama. Under the settlement, approved by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on September 30, the state must transfer 240 HIV-positive prisoners by November 1, according to an article by Courthouse News.

In December 2012, the Court ruled that Alabama’s policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, finding that the segregation policy was no longer justified because advances in science and medicine have dramatically reduced the risk of transmitting HIV.

“Today…HIV does not invariably cause death. The vast majority of infected individuals can expect to live a near-normal lifespan,” the Court stated.

In South Carolina, the federal government and the state filed a settlement on September 31, requiring the state to transfer an estimated 350 HIV-positive inmates, according to an Associated Press article.

The federal government had been in negotiations with the state since it missed a Department of Justice-imposed 2010 deadline to integrate its prison.

In 1985, during the height of the AIDS epidemic, 46 states nationwide segregated their HIV-positive prisoners.