Activities: AIDS 2012 CONFERENCE

Health through Walls holds first Prisoner Networking Zone at
XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, DC,
July 22-27, 2012

The XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), under the theme of "Turning the Tide Together," was held in Washington, D.C., from July 22 through 27, 2012, attracting more than 23,000 participants from 170+ countries including leaders in science, diplomacy, politics, philanthropy and entertainment.

Competing with hundreds of applicants, Health through Walls' proposal was accepted to produce the first-ever Prisoners Networking Zone in the Global Village section of the conference. To produce the event, Health through Walls (HtW) was partnered with AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW), a not-for-profit organizations that works to reduce the impact of HIV amongst vulnerable populations including prisoners in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Justice in Prisons: Health Access, Treatment and Prevention

Incarcerated persons are disproportionally affected by HIV/AIDS worldwide. We invited conference participants and the public to explore the impact of mass incarceration, prevention and harm reduction, access to treatment, justice and human rights at our Justice in Prisons: Health Access, Treatment and Prevention activities in our Prisoner Networking Zone.

Our objective was to focus on challenging HIV in resource-poor prisons in order to increase awareness of the issue and needs, generate collaboration and networking, forge partnerships for further advocacy, share experiences from different countries to understand challenges and successes in the prevention, identification and treatment of HIV and related disease in prisons in resource poor countries with a focus on current and emerging topics.

Through a series of presentations and discussions led by frontline providers, prison health care experts, prison authorities and community-based organizations, we explored issues and strategies of care, discharge planning, peer education, nutritional and social needs, condom distribution, needle exchange, drug prisons, forced labor, and engagement of authorities. We presented information materials, video and slide presentations, a photo exhibit, displayed banners with messages and photographs, gave out tote bags bearing messaging, and generated numerous informal discussions and meaningful media coverage.

HtW's board, staff, partners and community volunteers, joined in making the Prisoner Networking Zone a success. Haiti: Patrice Joseph, MD, Steeven Jackson, Hebert Norvelus, MD, Dominican Republic: Grace Butler Martinez, MD, Oreibe Santana De La Rosa, Dilcia Nunez Santos, Dr. Annelice Roa De Martinez, Jamaica: Devon Simmonds, Nollis Dyer, Donna Royer-Powe, MD, Congo: Kahindo Muyisa, MD, New York: Michelle Karshan, Miami: John May, MD, Mark Andrews, Karine Duverger.

HtW's Founder and Medical Director, John P. May, MD and other HtW staff attended the AIDS 2012 conference's Opening Plenary and its various sessions. HtW contributed photographs and slogans to the conference's continuous slide show around the theme of Turning the Tide Together. The Haitian Ministry of Health, USAID Haiti representative and Haitian health organizations were active participants at some of our sessions, and some of our Haiti participants also joined Haiti's First Lady in meetings and sessions specific to Haiti.

Poster Exhibition.

HtW participated in the Poster Exhibit: Demonstration Project to develop a model for a comprehensive program to prevent HIV, TB and associated infectious diseases in the prison system in Haiti. It was created and presented by Patrice Joseph, MD of Gheskio and a consultant to HtW. The exhibition included the work of HtW and other collaborators who together pioneered the implementation of a health care program in Haiti's National Penitentiary for the prevention, identification and treatment of HIV, AIDS, and Tuberculosis and later included cholera.


Our seminars featured prison health care professionals from Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, GOMA/DRC, and the U.S., as well as key speakers presenting on behalf of internationally respected health and criminal justice organizations such as the National Criminal Justice Reform, Open Society Justice Initiative, Human Rights Watch, International Labor Rights Forum, Harm Reduction International, the prison authorities of Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Haiti, the Association of Women Doctors from Goma, and Alternative Chance, a program for criminal deportees based in Haiti.

Many thanks for the kind sponsorship of the Open Society Foundations, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Gilead Foundation, and the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012). The following partners were instrumental in our success as well: American Correctional Association, International Corrections and Prison Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, and the International Journal of Prison.

Please visit our Photo Gallery for more pictures from the conference!


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Together with AFEW, HtW built and produced a mock Prison Bars display inside our Prisoner Networking Zone where visitors posed with signs bearing the message of their choice. Messages included:

- Standing for justice for prisoners -- Health care access, treatment and prevention;
- Health is a Human Right - Indifference is a Human Wrong;
- Prevent HIV: Condoms for Prisoners;
- Peer education is key to prevention;
- Prison Health is Public Health;
- Solidarity for Prisoner Health;
- Harm Reduction for Prisoners,

and so on.

During our HIV/AIDS in Jamaica's Prisons session at the AIDS 2012 conference, John P. May, President and Medical Director of Health through Walls, demonstrates how our TeleMedicine program works in Jamaica's prison system. Here Dr. May connects live with the medical staff in a Jamaican prison. TeleMedicine allows doctors in prison systems to consult with medical experts inside their country or abroad while presenting the patient on the screen as well.

Lots of interest, energy and questions at Health through Walls' sessions on HIV in Jamaica, Dominican Republic and African prisons at the AIDS 2012 international conference in Washington, DC.

Hebert Norvelus, MD, and Patrice Joseph, MD, both of Health through Walls, together with various partners, pose with Haiti's First Lady and other health care professionals from Haiti at the AIDS 2012 conference in Washington, DC. Health through Walls doctors and USAID officer pose with Haiti's First Lady and other health professionals from Haiti at the AIDS 2012 conference.

Health through Walls also had a booth in the Marketplace Zone of the Global Village at the AIDS 2012 conference and provided informational materials on prison health care issues, displayed photos and prisoner-made art and crafts. Funds generated went to the prisoner artists in Haiti.

Tote bags produced by Health through Walls and distributed for free at the AIDS 2012 conference read: Justice in Prisons: Health Access, Treatment and Prevention.

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