224 EBR inmates treated for HIV in 2017

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - 224 inmates who served time in the East Baton Rouge parish prison in 2017 were treated for HIV, according to records obtained by the WAFB 9News Investigators.

And, the number could be much higher as that is only the number of inmates who told jail staff of their medical status, a procedure known as "self-reporting."

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

The cost to the jail for treating the infected inmates is quite expensive, with medication averaging $1,500 per month per inmate, records show.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office provided the figure Tuesday when responding to a lawsuit recently filed against the prison by an 18-year-old inmate who says he became HIV-positive after allegedly being raped there.

In the lawsuit, the inmate claims he should have been separated from the inmate who was allegedly HIV-positive.

The sheriff's department says that would be nearly impossible to do because so many inmates at any one time are HIV-positive. And, the department says they believe they are not legally able to isolate inmates based on their HIV status.

The population of HIV-positive inmates at the prison varies by day. Of the 224 HIV-positive inmates in 2017, some were housed there for less than a day while others were there much longer.

As of today, the jail currently has 69 inmates who have self-reported that they are HIV-positive.

Here is more information from the sheriff's department provided in response to a public records request filed by WAFB:

According to medical (city-parish) inmates are not HIV tested upon intake.  Medical asks, but the inmate would have to self-report. An inmate does not have to take an HIV test if they do not want to. However, the jail does regularly randomly test inmates that will voluntarily agree to be tested.   According to the Correct Health Director of Nursing, there were 224 total inmates for the year 2017 that received HIV treatment. We cannot logistically segregate them nor can they be housed out of parish, because medical (city/parish) is responsible for providing them with their approximately $1,500/month treatment.

The sheriff's department also provided the following responses to the lawsuit filed by the inmate who claims he became HIV-positive after being raped in the prison:

Claim he was raped while 17:

The inmate was booked on July 9, 2016  for Burglary and Theft of a Firearm when he was 17 years old. Seventeen-year-olds are placed on a special line until they turn 18 years old. The inmate remained on that line until he turned 18 on February 17, 2017. At that time he was placed into general population. While on a General population line he reported that he had a fight with another inmate concerning some dealings the other inmate allegedly had with a mother of one of his children. At that time he refused to go back into that particular line due to the dispute with that inmate.  He was then placed onto a different line around midnight on May 18, 2017 where the rape allegedly occurred. On May 18, 2017, Sometime during the afternoon he was offered to move to a different line, and he refused.  According to our detectives' investigation and all evidence collected the alleged rape occurred on May 20, 2017 (when the inmate was 18). He did not report it to anyone at the prison, but prison staff intercepted a note being passed to another inmate the next day on May 21, 2017. At that time he was taken to medical for treatment. Treatment for any incident in which an inmate is potentially exposed to the HIV virus whether or not we know the other inmate is HIV positive at the prison includes anti-HIV medications. This treatment is provided whether or not the perpetrator or victim reportedly have HIV. Legally, we cannot provide you with information if an inmate has or has not tested positive for HIV.

Claim that said inmate should have been classified as a high-risk sexual victim:

Upon booking at parish prison both the sheriff and medical (an arm of city-parish, not staffed by EBR Sheriff's Office) assesses each inmate to  determine proper placement upon that assessment. Medical has told our staff they have no record of this inmate having any reported or having observed problems in terms of mental capacity. Also, under PREA, for an inmate to be classified as a high-risk sexual victim they must either be less than 5'6" tall or weigh less than 140 lbs. According to medical records, the inmate was 5'10 and 150 lbs upon booking.

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