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There were no condoms in prison, only plastic bread bags and occasional rubber gloves, in Tela La’Raine Love’s experience. As a transgender woman locked among men in Louisiana’s Orleans Parish Prison, she recalled in an essay last year, “In order to preserve some safety and dignity, I always chose a man before one tried to impose his will on me.”

 

It was that dynamic—sex “out of fear and necessity”—that left her with HIV.

 

Some countries do make condoms available to prisoners, while others cite security issues, or blanket prohibitions of sex. Only last year, California became the second state to require that condoms be available to all prisoners. Even in places where condoms are available, guards sometimes limit distribution as a form of control.

 

In the medical journal The Lancet this week, researchers at Johns Hopkins cite this as one factor in the spread of infectious diseases in prisons. The researchers argue that this spread amounts to a human-rights abuse and a violation of international law—a cruel and inhuman failure to ensure humane prison conditions.

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The Atlantic

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