SC to stop separating HIV inmates, other prisoners

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One of the two U.S. states that separates its HIV-infected inmates from its general prison population says it plans to stop doing so.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections said Wednesday it intends to stop housing its HIV-positive inmates in facilities separate from the rest of its prisoners — something it has done since 1998.

The state currently houses 366 HIV-positive inmates at two different institutions in Columbia. No date for the change is set, but officials hope it will happen in the next six months, department spokesman Clark Newsom said.

“Our medical staff has examined all the facets of this issue, and we believe it is safe to make a change in our current policy,” department Director William Byars Jr. said.

Alabama also separates its HIV-positive inmates from the rest of its prisoners, though a federal judge ordered it to end the practice in December following a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. Litigation in that case continues.

Mississippi dropped a similar policy in 2010.

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