BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A new report released by the Human Rights Watch on Tuesday states Louisiana fails to provide basic HIV services to inmates in parish jails.
"Louisiana is 'ground zero' for two epidemics in the US, with the highest rate of new HIV infections and an incarceration rate above the national average," Megan McLemore, senior health researcher at Human Rights Watch, said at a news conference. "The lack of treatment affects both people with HIV and the entire community, because whoever goes into jail comes back out."
State Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, said she plans to introduce two resolutions this legislative session that will help address the importance of the testing and treatment of parish inmates living with HIV.
In a news release, the Human Rights Watch stated more than 100 people recently released from jail, jail officials, state officials, health officials and others were interviewed to compile the 70-page report.
"Louisiana spends billions on its prisons but has failed to find the money to test for and treat HIV in local jails. This is not acceptable for public health or human rights and creates costlier medical problems down the road," McLemore added.