HIV and Healthcare in Prison

People in prison have some of the greatest healthcare needs. Because low-income communities of color are disproportionately affected by incarceration, the health challenges faced by these populations are shifted to the prison system. These patients have the highest rates of serious, chronic illness, such as HIV and hepatitis C (HCV), and often have had limited access to community care. Providing appropriate care in the prisons is an opportunity to diagnose and treat conditions previously undetected or inadequately treated and is a critical public health intervention point. Unfortunately, too often care inside fails to meet minimum standards of care.

New York prisons are the epicenter of HIV infections in US prisons, confining almost one of every five HIV-infected individuals incarcerated in the country. Similarly, our prisons have extremely high rates of hepatitis C (HCV); more than 20% of women in state prisons have HCV. Other chronic illness, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease, are at rates higher then in the public. Failure to treat these conditions in prison results in unnecessary suffering and adverse impacts on our communities.

System-wide, the quality of care within our prisons varies widely, with some facilities providing timely access to quality care, while at others it takes months to see a doctor, routine care is poor, access to specialty services is delayed, and follow-up care is inadequate.

The CA closely monitors prison healthcare and works with coalitions to urge prison officials and policymakers to improve the prison healthcare system. In 2009, after years of advocacy, the CA and its allies successfully secured the passage of a law mandating the state Department of Health (DOH) to monitor HIV/HCV care in all prisons and jails in the state—a central recommendation in the CA’s study, Healthcare in New York Prisons.

Better scrutiny of care and an effective system of accountability can help identify where changes in policies, practices or staff are needed at a system-wide or facility level. Providing quality medical care in prison is not only humane, but good public health policy; the vast majority of people in prison will eventually return home to their communities, and a strong system of care and oversight could help New York save both money and lives.




News | January 9, 2017

CA Applauds Commitment to Raise the Age in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address, Laments No Mention of Racism, Violence, and Abuse in NYS Prisons

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CA Applauds Commitment to Raise the Age in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address, Laments No Mention of Racism, Violence, and Abuse in NYS Prisons January 9, 2017 (New York, NY): The Correctional Association of New York roundly applauds the continued commitment of Governor Andrew Cuomo to raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York, ending the prosecution and incarceration of 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.Read More

News | September 22, 2016

Board of the Correctional Association of New York Appoints Carlton S. Mitchell Interim Executive Director

CSM photo

On September 22, 2016, the Board of Directors of the Correctional Association of New York announced the appointment of Carlton S. Mitchell as Interim Executive Director. He will start his duties in September 2016. Read More

News | March 31, 2016

E.D. Soffiyah Elijah Discusses Cuba Incarceration Models in Guernica Interview

In 2015, CA Executive Director Soffiyah Elijah organized three trips to Cuba, providing travelers an opportunity to observe up close how Cuba's criminal justice system operates in comparison -- and contrast -- to the way that the United States' system prosecutes and incarcerates people. In a recent 2016 issue of Guernica magazine, writer Hyatt Bass, who was a part of one of the CA delegations to Cuba, interviewed Elijah about the distinctions between the two countries when it comes to the concept of punishment.Read More

News | October 22, 2015



(October 22, 2015, New York, NY)  Today, the Women in Prison Project at the Correctional Association of New York (CA), the state’s oldest criminal justice reform organization, released a report entitled, “HIV Services for Women in New York State Prisons,”    New York has the highest number of HIV-positive incarcerated people and the second-highest number of HIV-positive incarcerated women of all prison systems in the country.  Read More

News | June 29, 2015


(June 29, 2015, New York, NY) The Correctional Association of New York (CA) today enthusiastically welcomed the quick action last week by New York State lawmakers in passing new anti-shackling legislation. This bill strengthens enforcement of the current law and expands anti-shackling protections to women throughout their pregnancy and eight weeks post-partum.Read More

News | October 21, 2014


“Voices from Attica” – a compilation of twelve powerful narratives of people incarcerated at Attica Correctional Facility in 2014 – paints a picture of endemic staff violence and abuse at this infamous prison. The prison walls are designed not only to keep incarcerated people in, but also to keep the public out.Read More

News | October 9, 2013

The state of HIV and hepatitis C care in NYS prisons, 2013

The CA has visited 18 prisons since January 2011, which was the last time the AIDS Institute issued a report about HIV and HCV care inside prisons. Read More

News | September 4, 2013

UPCOMING CONFERENCE: Making the Invisible Visible: Addressing the Health Needs of the Formerly Incarcerated

Registration is now open for the October 9, 2013 conference, sponsored by the Spencer Cox Center for Health of St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals.Read More

News | December 17, 2012

When having HIV is a crime

In states across the country, people with HIV may be prosecuted for not disclosing their HIV status to their sexual partners — even if transmission risk was minimal or nonexistent. Read More

News | December 13, 2012

Shining our spotlight on: Auburn Correctional Facility

Image of man being showered to death at Auburn Prison

The prison is the namesake of the “Auburn System,” a form of incarceration in which people worked in groups during the day, were housed in solitary confinement at night and lived in total silence. Read More

CA in the Press | August 3, 2018

Just Treatment: Exploring Cancer Care for Prisoners

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Prisoners are among the only U.S. citizens with a constitutional right to health care. That irony will anger some and perplex others, but prisoners are by definition wards of the state. When we take someone’s liberty, we also take responsibility for their food and shelter, their security and health. But behind bars, perhaps even more than in America at large, health care is inconsistent in its availability and quality.Read More

CA in the Press | November 5, 2017

State struggles to provide prison health care

ALBANY — New York’s complex of 54 state prison facilities is struggling to fill vacant jobs for nurses, doctors and other health care providers. Filling those vacancies and dealing with an aging prison population at facilities across the state have become among the tallest challenges for the $3 billion correctional system, top administrators concede.Read More

CA in the Press | October 12, 2016

How Does Incarceration Impact the Spread of HIV?

Baltimore has one of the higher HIV rates among U.S. cities. It’s also the city that one-third of the people in Maryland’s state prisons call home. What do the two have to do with each other? A lot, according to “The Global Burden of HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and Tuberculosis in Prisoners and Detainees”, a recent study on HIV and incarceration worldwide.Read More

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CA in the Press | April 14, 2016

Aging prisoners a taxpayer burden

I doubt if the readers of this newspaper are aware that the population of older people behind bars has become a national crisis! In New York state the number of incarcerated people over age 50 has risen 81 percent since 2000 and now exceeds 9,000. That’s almost 20 percent the total incarcerated population and the majority of them, over the age of 60.Read More

CA in the Press | November 11, 2015

What Do Women in State Prisons Think About Their HIV Services?

Women in New York State prisons want more peer-based services and increased confidentiality in regards to their health information, according to HIV-specific findings of a report released by the Women in Prison Project at the Correctional Association of New York (CA). Titled HIV Services for Women in New York State Prisons, the report is part of a five-year study on the state of reproductive health care for women in New York State prisons.Read More

CA in the Press | October 27, 2015

When HIV Meds Are Locked Up: The Challenge of Adherence in Jails and Prisons

  Kerry Thomas already knew that he was HIV-positive when he entered the Idaho State Correctional Center (ISCC) in Boise. So did prison officials, both from his health records from a previous prison term and from the publicity of his HIV criminalization case. When he arrived, however, prison medical staff said that they did not have his antiretroviral medications and were unsure when they would be able to provide them.Read More

CA in the Press | September 29, 2015

U.S. Prisons and Jails Are Threatening the Lives of Pregnant Women and Babies

At 5 a.m. on June 12, 2012, lying on a mat in a locked jail cell, without a doctor, Nicole Guerrero gave birth. Guerrero was eight-and-a half months pregnant when she arrived 10 days earlier at Texas’ Wichita County Jail. The medical malpractice lawsuit Guerrero has filed—against the county, the jail’s healthcare contractor, Correctional Healthcare Management, and one of the jail’s nurses, LaDonna Anderson—claims she began experiencing lower back pain, cramps, heavy vaginal discharge and bleeding on June 11.Read More

CA in the Press | September 11, 2015

Hepatitis C is Common in Prisons, but Treatment Is Rare

For many years, people with HIV and their advocates fought to increase HIV testing and treatment for prisoners. Over time, access to testing and treatment has improved, though problems remain. For example, very few jails or prisons make condoms available as an HIV-prevention tool. Although U.S. prisons now offer routine screenings for HIV, they do not for hepatitis C, meaning that people may unknowingly live with, spread or be exposed to the virus for years.Read More

CA in the Press | April 10, 2015

Restraint of Pregnant Inmates Is Said to Persist in New York Despite Ban

Maria Caraballo and her daughter EstrellaPhoto Credit: Christopher Gregory for the New York Times. If you go by the official records of the New York State prison system, Tina Tinen’s account of being shackled right before and immediately after the birth of her son is fiction. But the real world has never lived just in official records, no more than it dwells only in anecdotes.Read More

CA in the Press | March 31, 2015

Deprived of Care, Incarcerated Women Suffer Miscarriages, Stillbirths, Ectopic Pregnancies

On the morning of September 11, 2011, Krystal Moore thought she was dying. Sharp pain stabbed at her stomach, so much so that she curled up into a fetal position on her bed. She didn’t know what was happening. Though she was pregnant, she was only six months along, not nearly ready to give birth.Read More

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Advocacy Tools Video

Ending the barbaric practice of shackling incarcerated pregnant women

Watch the Correctional Association’s video about the barbaric – and illegal – shackling of incarcerated women during childbirth. In 2009 New York enacted a statute restricting the use of shackles on women during childbirth. The law bans outright the use of restraints on women throughout labor, delivery and recovery “after giving birth,” which is meant to cover at least the duration of a woman’s stay at the hospital. Read More

Prison Monitoring Reports

Auburn Correctional Facility

Auburn was the first prison to implement the “Auburn System,” a system of incarceration in which incarcerated people worked in groups during the day, were housed in solitary cells during the night, and lived in enforced silence. Today, Auburn Correctional Facility operates as a maximum security, DOCCS-operated prison for men ages 21 and older.Read More


Soffiyah Elijah on WBAI’s “On the Count”


CA executive director Soffiyah Elijah hosts a two hour special of Eddie Ellis' show, On the Count, in celebration of Women's History month.Read More

Organizational Materials

CA Bulletin: Fall 2009

In this issue; Unshackling pregnant women; Major prison healthcare victory; New direction for Drop the RockRead More

Fact Sheets

Women Prisoners and HIV

Incarcerated Women & HIV/Hepatitis C Fact Sheet HIV/AIDS.Read More

Organizational Materials

CA Bulletin: Winter 2009

In this issue; CA Reports on Prison Healthcare; Prison Downsizing Campaign Announced; Domestic Violence Documentary PremieredRead More

Reports & Research

Healthcare in New York Prisons 2004-2007

In 2009, PVP published Healthcare in New York Prisons, 2004-2007 at the request of the New York State Assembly's Health and Corrections Committees. The comprehensive report is based on information gathered during 19 monitoring visits and notes administrative factors that can negatively affect care, such as vacancies and low salaries of medical personnel. It also makes concrete recommendations for improvement.Read More

Organizational Materials

CA Bulletin: Fall 2007

In this issue; Victory: healthcare coverage for people leaving prison; Advances in Treatment for incarcerated individuals with mental illness; Safe harbor for exploited childrenRead More

Reports & Research

Addressing Key Criminal Justice Issues in the 21st Century

This special report presents some of the Correctional Association's top reform proposals for the state's administration to consider, as well as the benefits they could provide for both the communities most heavily impacted by incarceration and for society as a whole.Read More

Reports & Research

Women, Incarceration, Reentry and HIV

An overwhelming majority of incarcerated women living with HIV and HCV or who are at high risk for HIV and HCV eventually return home and resume their various roles in society. Such women will remain at high risk unless they receive appropriate interventions and services inside correctional facilities and during the reentry process.Read More