An aspect of my Hfe that has been incredibly troubling s the AIDS crisis here n the DC Jail. The immensity of the problem, and the genocidal destruction of the Black community in general - represented by the conditions of women here- is truly overwhelming. Sometimes the unit I live on, 1 60 women mostly under 30, seems awash in tragedy . Underneath Jhe surface are all of the ways that we struggle to cope with our situation and to survfve. About two months ago a woman well-known to folks here died a painful death, on a respirator, shackled hands and feet. She died of AIDS-related pneumocistic pneumonía and never received the medication - aerosolized pentamidine - that could have saved her life. Women that knew her here grieved because of losing a friend, but also panicked because the AIDS relality was upon them. Many of them had shared works or cookers, or had the same pimp. More and more women started coming to all of us [Resistance Conspiracy Defendants] confiding their positive Hl V status to us, and asking for medical or legal help. So we've been struggling to gather whatever outside resources we have here, to get some educationcounselling programs started, to defuse the myths and stigma that permeate our environment (the worst curse on my unit is "AIDS-carrying bitch") and to help them fight for life and treatment in a system that is absolutely indifferent to their deaths. I feel that I could never know enough to really help them, nor do I have any real counselling skills. It's unbearably sad to realize that 20% or more of these women I live with - some of them truly my friends - will probably be dead within two or three years. I think of their families and people who love them and need them on the outside. We fight together for testing, results, and minimal treatment (since that's all that's available) as their health deteriorates in front of my eyes. We're trying to link up with AIDS activists and services on the outside, but prisoners - especially prisoners with AIDS - are a population everyone would like to ignore. The struggle continúes.
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