Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. are living with HIV. More than 100,000 of those are in New York City alone and thousands more could be infected but don't even know it. As our Zack Fink reports, some state lawmakers are looking into help stop the spread of disease in prisons.
NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. -- More than 100,000 city residents are living with HIV and thousands more could be infected but don't even know it. Some lawmakers are trying to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS through legislation.
"We have identified bills that speak to this problem of HIV/AIDS. Particularly the staggering statistics that speak to a crisis within the African American community," said State Senator Bill Perkins.
One of the problems, according to Senator Perkins and others, is that men are becoming infected through unprotected sex in prison.
One of the proposed bills would educate prisoners about the risk of spreading HIV when they are released. Another would actually pass out condoms behind bars.
Perkins said, "Not only is taking place in there. Whether we want to face it or not. But when they come out, we recognize in their behavior that is also a source of some of the infections that we are seeing."
But opposition to that kind of program has scuttled efforts to distribute condoms before. The archdiocese referred us to the catholic conference which is opposed to the bill.
"Making condoms available in jails and prisons is not a brand new idea. There are jail and prison systems around the country that have been doing that for a number of years and find that it does indeed help to control the spread of disease," said State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried.
There are actually two separate bills. One in the Assembly that focuses on education and another in the Senate that would allow condom distribution. Gottfried says the latter has always failed legislatively and he thinks efforts should be made to accomplish the same goal administratively through the Department of Corrections.