Arick Buckles, a 39-year-old Illinois resident, spent a week in Bureau County Jail recently for some bad checks that were written several years ago. Buckles, who has since turned his life around and become a public health advocate on behalf of HIV/AIDS patients, alleges that while in jail for a week, officials with the Bureau County Jail and the Illinois Corrections system refused to give him necessary HIV/AIDS medications -- life-saving medications that help HIV/AIDS patients manage their health.
Moreover, when Advanced Correctional Healthcare (the entity that manages health care administration for prisons in Illinois) was approached about Buckles' allegation, the CEO had the audacity to say that denying HIV/AIDS medications from HIV-positive inmates is no big deal.
"It’s not the end of the world," said CEO Norman Johnson. "They’re not suddenly going to crash and burn."
Public health advocates disagree. Experts from Northwestern University have said that forcing HIV/AIDS inmates to skip medications for a period of time could have catastrophic health effects, reinvigorating the virus and leaving patients more prone to heart attacks and future drug resistance.
Advocates are now calling on the corrections system in Illinois to put together a comprehensive plan to deal with the health care of HIV-positive inmates. Join them by calling on Advanced Correctional Healthcare to apologize for their inflammatory and bogus statement that "missing HIV/AIDS medications doesn't matter," and by urging the statewide Department of Corrections to internally audit how it administers medications to HIV-positive inmates.
The CEO, Norman Johnson, made the comments after allegations came forward by Illinois resident Arick Buckles, who says he was denied necessary HIV-medications during a recent week-long stint in Bureau County Jail. Johnson's words, available at this link (http://www.edgeonthenet.com/news/aids/news//121415/man_contends_illinois_jail_denied_him_hiv_drugs), suggested that "it's not the end of the world" for prisoners to be denied life-saving medications, and that "they’re not suddenly going to crash and burn."
These comments are extremely insensitive, and I'm deeply troubled that the person in charge of healthcare of Illinois prisoners would make such scientifically misinformed comments. Indeed, public health experts at Northwestern responded to Johnson's comments saying that he was dead wrong, and that denying HIV-positive individuals medicines for any period of time could be devastating, leading to heart disease, drug resistance, and numerous other complications from HIV/AIDS.
I urge the CEO of Advanced Correctional Healthcare to apologize for his erroneous comments, and I also ask that the Illinois Department of Corrections and Bureau County Jail apologize to Arick Buckles for denying him his medications, and that the Illinois Department of Corrections announces an audit to ensure that no HIV-positive inmate has to worry about being denied life-saving medications.
Thank you for your time.