TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the correction law, in relation to
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention
PURPOSE: To require information regarding HIV testing, counseling and
education to be provided to persons upon release from a state
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Sections 1 of the bill amends the correction law by adding a new
section to require that inmates being released from state correctional
facilities be provided with information about the prevention of human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and instructions about how to
obtain free HIV testing upon release, including contact information
for HIV counseling and testing service providers.
JUSTIFICATION: Prisons are breeding grounds for infectious diseases,
namely HIV and AIDS. Such is evident in the AIDS rate in state and
federal prisons, which is seven times higher than in the general U.S.
population. Between 1995 and 1999, the HIV infection rate in Federal
and State prisons rose from 1,500 to 25,757 according to the U.S.
Department of Justice. As of 2001, New York State has the largest
known infection rate of 7,000 inmates.
The debilitating affect of AIDS on racial and ethnic minority
communities has worsened, as the demography of the epidemic has
changed considerably over the last decade. African Americans and
Hispanics, in particular, are now disproportionately affected. Racial
minority groups today represent almost three quarters of new AIDS
cases. Although Hispanics made up only about 14% of the population of
the United States, they accounted for 19% of the estimated cases
diagnosed since the beginning of the epidemic, and alarmingly, in 2004
Hispanics accounted for 20% of new diagnoses. African Americans
accounted for 43% of all AIDS cases reported during that same year,
even though African Americans make up just 12% of the population.
Among African American women, the figures are even more alarming - 67%
of American women diagnosed with AIDS in 2004 were black.
According to a recent study by researchers at U.C. Berkeley, the high
rate of African American men in incarceration may also have played a
role in the rapid spread of HIV throughout the African American
community. Researchers discovered that the increase in AIDS among
black Americans closely corresponds to the rise in incarceration rates
of black men over the past two decades. This is due, in part, to the
fact that prison systems are havens for high risk behaviors that make
the spread of HIV prevalent, including intravenous (IV) drug use,
tattooing, unprotected sex between men and male rape and the use of
contaminated cutting instruments. It is also a result of the HIV
positive men and women entering the system and those who are infected
during their incarceration, who do not know their status and lack
adequate information and resources to protect themselves. Under these
circumstances, HIV is being transmitted unwittingly, and resultantly,
a number of positive HIV cases in prisons are increasing.
As hundreds of thousands of young men are released from prison each
year, many will return to those communities that are hardest hit by
HIV. Without proper education and counseling of regarding HIV status,
the impact on minority communities will undoubtedly worsen. Requiring
notification about the prevention of human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV) infection and instructions about how to obtain free HIV testing
upon release, including contact information for HIV counseling and
testing service providers, upon release from incarceration will
further the goals of HIV control, prevention, and education and help
to alleviate barriers to health care that typically exist upon
2011-2012: S.6488 - Died in Committee
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Minimal.
EFFECTIVE DATE: To take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall
have become law.