Friday, December 7, 2007

Legislature Dumb About Condoms?

Dr. M on International AIDS Awareness Day
Oakland Post Newspaper Group

I spent International AIDS Awareness Day passing out condoms downtown at my outdoor classroom/clinic, 14th and Broadway, the crossroads of Black Oakland. After listening to a discussion on KPFA radio, I learned that condoms, which help prevent the transmission of AIDS, are contraband in jails and prisons.

I contacted my friends in the Sacramento legislature to see if they might lobby to change the rules because the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Black community is increased when infected brothers are released to spread the virus to their loved ones, sometimes in the bravado mode to conceal their homosexual behavior while in prison.

If use of condoms can help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, I urge brothers to use them, and more importantly, I urge sisters to demand brothers make use of them, i.e., no condom, no sex! I recall how sex workers in San Francisco demanded brothers use condoms, but I don't know about other cities.

It is depressing to learn the nation's capital is the number one city for HIV/AIDS cases. We wonder what the Congressional Black Caucus is doing about this, but Harry Belafonte recently said in his Oakland address, "They can't catch a rabbit." Perhaps the progressive wing of elected politicians, locally, statewide and nationally can lobby to pass legislation to lift the ban on condom use in jails and prisons. Surely, this is a simple answer to a complex problem. --Dr. M

Reply from Fahizah:

Swanson, (D-Oakland) carried this specific legislation last year and it was vetoed.
The opponets were the prison guards and of course Republicans. As we work on a Legislative Black Caucus agenda for next year. I will personally lobby for the black legislators to again introduce such a bill. But the grass roots folks will have to lobby hard and support these efforts. Because you know the moneyed- back lobbyists will be pushing the other way.

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