Category Archives: Philadelphia

Prison Health News: Spring 2013 Issue! (Plus, other recent issues)

You can download it as a pdf for reading by clicking here, or the printable version by clicking here. See the end of this post for helpful printing instructions.

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Plus: Winter 2013 was one of my favorite issues of Prison Health News, with an article by Khalfani Malik Khaldun on how folks in solitary confinement in Indiana survive medical neglect, an interview with Joshua Glenn of the Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project, a tribute to our mentor John Bell who recently passed away, and several articles on navigating mental health. Download it here. And don’t miss Summer 2012!

Prison Health News is a print newsletter read by about 5,000 people who are locked up in prisons and jails across the United States. It is produced by a Philadelphia-based collective of writers and editors and includes the work of imprisoned artists and writers. Our readers are living inside a system that denies them prevention tools and treatment information about HIV, hepatitis, and other health issues. They are dealing with medical neglect, daily humiliations driven by intense stigma, and the destruction of their communities by mass imprisonment.

Prison Health News is a project of the HIV/AIDS services organization Philadelphia FIGHT. Volunteers answer the many letters to us from people in prisons and jails asking for resources and health information.

To help distribute Prison Health News, contact:

Institute for Community Justice, Philadelphia FIGHT
21 S. 12th Street, 7th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Office: 215.525.0460
Fax: 215.525.0461

Instructions for printing Prison Health News on your home printer:

1. Download the printable version here.

2. Use Letter size (8 1/2 x 11) paper. Make sure that the printer is not set to reduce, or “scale” the document. On my Mac in Preview, I go under “File” and click on “Page Setup,” then make sure “Scale” is set to 100%. I don’t think it’s much different for other computers and programs.

3. In the printing options, select “Odd pages only.” Press print.

4. Half of the pamphlet will print. After it finishes printing, take the whole pile, flip it over, and insert it back into the printer. It usually has to be flipped over lengthwise, but you might want to make sure by using a test page.

5. In the printing options, select “Even pages only” and press print.

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Filed under African Americans, arts and culture, criminalization of HIV, people with AIDS in leadership, Philadelphia, prison, revolutionary strategies, Southern United States, stigma, Uncategorized

Waheedah Shabazz-El at John Bell’s memorial service, 10/5/12

At the memorial service for AIDS activist and teacher John Bell, Waheedah Shabazz-El speaks about his passionate dedication to ACT UP Philadelphia; fighting for HIV prevention and medications for people around the planet; sharing principles for building a better world; and his work teaching and reaching out to incarcerated people living with HIV.

She also speaks about her own journey, made smoother and enriched by his mentorship: “He gave me hope that day…. He gave me the bridge I needed… to come out of that troubled water. And when I came to the other side, there you all were—this loving community. “

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by | October 6, 2012 · 4:49 pm

We Can End AIDS! Five marches converge for creative action at the White House, July 24, 2012

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by | July 25, 2012 · 8:42 pm

Prison Health News: Winter 2012 Issue Out Now!

You can download it as a pdf for reading by clicking here, or the printable version by clicking here. See the end of this post for helpful printing instructions.

This issue’s got

  • Why Are So Many People Incarcerated in the U.S.? by Waheedah Shabazz-El
  • The Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement by Tina Reynolds
  • Prison Food: The 411 of Navigating the System by Tré Alexander
  • Reach the Light by Kyle
  • How to Obtain Your GED While in Prison or Out by Stanley J
  • Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating MRSA by Ronda B, Suzy S, Bernard T, and Naseem B

plus, addresses in different regions of the U.S. to write for Advocacy and Support Resources and Informational Resources!

Prison Health News is a print newsletter read by 2,500+ people who are locked up in prisons and jails across the United States. It is produced by a Philadelphia-based collective of writers and editors, most of whom have been in prison and are living with HIV, and includes the work of imprisoned artists and writers. Our readers are living inside a system that denies them prevention tools and treatment information about HIV, hepatitis, and other health issues. They are dealing with medical neglect, daily humiliations driven by intense stigma, and the destruction of their communities by mass imprisonment. Continue reading

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Filed under African Americans, arts and culture, economic justice, Philadelphia, police repression, prison, treatment access

Prison Health News: Summer 2011 Issue Out Now!

We finally finished the Summer issue of Prison Health News — with vital information that is right on time for people in prisons and jails around the country.

You can download it as a pdf for reading by clicking here, or the printable version by clicking here. See the end of this post for helpful printing instructions.

This issue’s got

  • Beat Stress with Dahn Yoga Meditation by Teresa Sullivan
  • Fasting for Human Rights in the Secure Housing Units of California by Suzy Subways
  • How HIV Meds Work, Part II: An Update on HIV Drug Classes by Hannah Zellman
  • The Society for Employment and Equal Rights by George N. Murray
  • Free Your Mind by Angelo Johnson

plus, addresses in different regions of the U.S. to write for Advocacy and Support Resources and Informational Resources!

Prison Health News is a print newsletter read by 2,500+ people who are locked up in prisons and jails across the United States. It is produced by a Philadelphia-based collective of writers and editors, most of whom have been in prison and are living with HIV, and includes the work of imprisoned artists and writers. Our readers are living inside a system that denies them prevention tools and treatment information about HIV, hepatitis, and other health issues. They are dealing with medical neglect, daily humiliations driven by intense stigma, and the destruction of their communities by mass imprisonment.

Prison Health News is a project of Reaching Out: A Support Group with Action and the Institute for Community Justice, which are based at the HIV/AIDS services organization Philadelphia FIGHT. Volunteers at the AIDS Library (also at FIGHT) answer the many letters to us from people in prisons and jails asking for resources and health information. Continue reading

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Filed under African Americans, arts and culture, California, economic justice, Philadelphia, prison

ACT UP Philly still taking it to the streets! End waiting lists in Philadelphia, the U.S., and around the world!

President Obama promised to ensure that everyone has access to AIDS drugs by 2010. But now, the year that everyone was supposed to have access, 70% of people with HIV still lack access to medication!

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Join us as we tell Obama:

END THE WAITING LISTS
FOR PEOPLE WITH AIDS!

MONDAY, SEPT 20TH @ 2PM
Meet at Broad & Arch
We will march to a fundraiser Obama is attending at
the Convention Center
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– The US is limiting access to treatment to only those in the most dire need around the world. Others are being forced to wait in line until they get sick before they are eligible!
– In the US, more than 3,000 people with AIDS have been forced onto AIDS drug waiting lists, due to state budget cuts!
– Here in Philly, hundreds of people with AIDS are forced to wait in line for housing. A stable home makes it possible to take meds regularly.

Sponsored by:
ACT UP Philadelphia, Health GAP and Philly Global AIDS Watchdogs (GAWD)

More info:
actupphilly (at) gmail.com

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Filed under economic justice, housing, Philadelphia, treatment access

Che Gossett on AIDS activist Kiyoshi Kuromiya’s legacy and the intersections between all movements for liberation

At Movements For Change, an event in honor of Kiyoshi Kuromiya on June 10th in Philadelphia, student activist Che Gossett incited a room of sleep-deprived AIDS activists to shouts and tears, reminding us why we are doing this work and inspiring us toward new ways of doing it. The event was hosted by longtime activist Chris Bartlett at the Church of St. Luke and The Epiphany, where ACT UP Philadelphia meets each Monday night at 6pm, and strategized for the future while remembering Kiyoshi, a beloved member of ACT UP who died 10 years ago.

“Kiyoshi believed in intersectionality long before that was a term people used,” Chris said in his opening remarks. “He brought what he learned from the Civil Rights, Gay Liberation and other movements to all of the work he did, and wherever people struggled for human rights and dignity, he was there.”

Che generously shared the text of their talk with us here. Enjoy!


“The white middle-class outlook of the earlier [homophile] groups, which thought that everything in America would be fine if people only treated homosexuals better, wasn’t what we were all about…We wanted to stand with the poor, with women, with people of color, with the antiwar people, to bring the whole corrupt thing down.”[1] Kiyoshi Kuromiya

This quote, especially the call to stand with the poor, women, people of color, anti-war people and for a radical alternative is what, in my understanding, animated Kiyoshi’s life. To me, it represents the core of his legacy and stands as an imperative for discussions of the future.

My talk is supposed to be about the future of gay rights, but how do we talk about a future that, as defined by homo-normative groups and political formations like the HRC [Human Rights Campaign], neither centers nor sometimes even includes those categories Kiyoshi mentions — women (trans and non trans), the poor and people of color?   How can we hold a mirror up to a future in which we are not reflected?   How is it that we, as queer and transgender people of color are evacuated and disappeared from a future we helped to create?

The Lawrence v. Texas legal decision that struck down sodomy laws has been heralded by gay rights groups, yet it is haunted by the racial violence of its past — the legal basis for the police invasion of Lawrence’s apartment was not “consensual sodomy,” but a false report of a weapons disturbance — the Harris County police dispatcher was called and told, “There’s a nigger going crazy with a gun.”[2] How is it that this racialized past now exists as a sign of a post-racial queer future? In which gay rights are the new civil rights, and the civil rights battles of the 60s have been won?   How did we move from gay and trans liberation to queer neoliberalism?  From gay anti-capitalism to the depoliticized neoliberal gay market niche?  How did we get from the gay anti-imperialism of the Gay Liberation Front, the Philadelphia chapter of which Kiyoshi and Basil O’Brien created in May of 1970[3], to homonationalism — the marriage and military rhetoric — of today?  Why, instead of fighting US imperialism, and standing in solidarity with anti-occupation struggles and against political repression, such as the recent Israeli military attack on the Gaza aid flotillas — are queers rushing to join wars rather than protest police and state violence? Continue reading

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Filed under African Americans, criminalization of HIV, economic justice, gay and bisexual men, harm reduction, housing, imperialism/colonialism, New York City, people with AIDS in leadership, Philadelphia, police repression, prison, revolutionary strategies, Southern United States, stigma, trans and gender non-conforming, Uncategorized, war, women

Prison Health News is up and running again!

Prison Health News is a print newsletter read by thousands of people who are locked up in prisons and jails across the United States. It is produced by a Philadelphia-based collective of writers and editors, most of whom have been in prison and are living with HIV, and includes the work of imprisoned artists and writers. Our readers are living inside a system that denies them prevention tools and treatment information about HIV, hepatitis, and other health issues. They are dealing with medical neglect, daily humiliations driven by intense stigma, and the destruction of their communities by mass imprisonment.

Who We Are…

We are on the outside, but many of us were inside before… and survived it. We are formerly incarcerated people and allies talking about health issues and trying to bring about a positive change for all people who are in prison now or ever have been in the past. This newsletter is about all of us.

We will be talking about health issues. For example, what is good nutrition? Where can you get services and information on the outside? We want to take your health questions seriously and break down complicated health information so that it is understandable.

We’re also here to help you learn how to get better health care within your facility and how to get answers to your health questions. Don’t get frustrated. Be persistent. In prison, it’s often hard to get what you want, but with health information, it doesn’t have to be impossible. Join us in our fight for our right to health care and health information.

Prison Health News is a project of Reaching Out: A Support Group with Action and the Institute for Community Justice, which are based at the HIV/AIDS services organization Philadelphia FIGHT. Volunteers at the AIDS Library (also at FIGHT) answer the many letters to us from people in prisons and jails asking for resources and health information.

Writing/editing collective: Benjamin Green, Che Gossett, Cliff Wms, Hannah Zellman, James, Jeanette Moody, Laura McTighe, Loretta Miles-Melendez, LuQman Abdullah, Najee Gibson, Roy Hayes, Sara Alvarez, Samuel Withers III, Suzy Subways, Teresa Sullivan, and Waheedah Shabazz-El.

The Summer 2010 issue will be available online in a few days (early June!) on the Institute for Community Justice website, where you can also read back issues, subscribe, and find out how to submit articles. There is also a contact list of organizations around the country that work with us on distribution and to support and advocate for people incarcerated in their cities and states. If you are in Philadelphia and would like to participate in the writing/editing collective, you can contact me at mizsubways (at) gmail.com.

To help distribute Prison Health News, contact:

Institute for Community Justice
21 S. 12th Street, 7th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Office: 215.525.0460
Fax: 215.525.0461

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Filed under African Americans, people with AIDS in leadership, Philadelphia, prison, stigma, trans and gender non-conforming, treatment access, Uncategorized, women

A Lone Activist Survives an Urban Shelter System

—As told to Suzy Subways

May / June 2008 • Issue 8

An HIV positive homeless activist talks about life inside city shelters, being kicked out of one for his activism, and delaying HIV treatment because he’s homeless.

The shelters are like warehouses for men. Guys who go to work have to fill out a “late return.” And you can fill out the paperwork, but if the person on duty doesn’t put it in the proper place, you lose your bed. While I was living in another shelter, I finished an HIV treatment education class at a local AIDS service organization and completed a building maintenance class, but it was very hard for me – that and keeping my doctor’s appointments, because I’m HIV positive.

The people who work at the shelters put everybody in a classification that comes from Narcotics Anonymous – that you can’t manage your life so somebody has to do it for you. “You’re here, so you must have a problem. We’re gonna strip you down and build you back up, and we’re gonna make you the man that you couldn’t be.” They treat you like you’re on drugs, even if the problem is just that you’re having trouble with your wife, and you have a home, if you could just patch things up. People might have mental health problems, you might have HIV, or have had a disaster, like a fire. But I’m 45 years old – you can’t strip me.

I think people who work in this capacity need to listen. I would let people express themselves, and I think I would get a better response. Rather than “Shut up, let me tell you what I want you to do.” They provoke people. A guy could come there and be at his exceeding limit, and they’re not trained to notice anything like that. Something could trigger him, and he goes into a rage. I’ve seen suicides in the shelters.

Getting Kicked Out for Activism

They want to manage your money. You use the shelter’s address, and you can get your welfare benefits. You pay shelter fees, and then you put most of the rest of the money into a savings plan. A few months ago, I needed carfare to go be with my wife, but they said I had to pay those shelter fees or they were going to kick me out. My wife has cancer. I felt that saving money would mean nothing if my wife was to pass away.

I had to involve some higher-ups, so I talked to a gentleman at my city councilperson’s office. After that, it seemed like I was on a blacklist. Two people the next day were badgering me. They come around in the mornings and say, “get out of bed.” I was getting dressed, and the one woman said, “I better not say nothing to him, because he’s going to tell the politicians on me.” I didn’t say anything back.

The day I had a colonoscopy, I went back to the shelter and they had cut my locks, packed up everything and had it in a big tub, and said, “You’re out of here.” A person comes into the shelter with all they own, their worldly possessions. And I said, “Look, I’ve got this note from my doctor, I need to rest,” but they kicked me out. Continue reading

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Filed under African Americans, displacement and gentrification, economic justice, housing, people with AIDS in leadership, Philadelphia, Solidarity Project, stigma, treatment access

Solidarity Workshop: How to Do Activist Teach-Ins at a Homeless Shelter

May / June 2008 • Issue 8

By Jose de Marco, ACT UP Philadelphia and Proyecto SOL (Latino AIDS Leadership Organization)

Once ACT UP lays out its basic plans for a campaign, it may plan a demonstration or other type of action. This is where teach-ins come in. ACT UP goes to drug recovery houses, classes for people living with HIV at a local AIDS service organization, and other groups to invite people from the larger community to participate.

Here are de Marco’s seven basic steps for a successful teach-in at a homeless shelter:

ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, has been fighting for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and for human rights-based HIV prevention in Philadelphia for 20 years. Longtime member Jose de Marco says, “People at our meetings – community members living with HIV and our allies – decide what political issues to work on. Sometimes, our campaigns choose us – they come to us and bang on the door.” One action de Marco is most proud of? Interrupting John Kerry during a campaign speech in 2004, which helped inspire Kerry to double Bush’s global AIDS funding promise from $15 billion to $30 billion.

  1. Empathize with shelter residents. You have to put yourself in other people’s shoes. One time when I went to the shelter to do a teach-in, I had on old jeans with holes in them and a dirty T-shirt, and the staff asked me in a really mean way, “Where are you going?” I didn’t like the way they talked to me, so I ignored them. It was horrible – almost a confrontation. It really gave me insight into how people are treated there. I was just a person that they thought was homeless. Folks in the shelters aren’t treated with respect. They’re treated like animals. I could imagine having to kiss feet just to stay there.
  2. Be out and proud. AIDS is a stigmatizing subject in a shelter. A lot of people still think you can get it by taking a shower behind someone. I always tell them that I’m HIV positive right off the bat. They usually respect you because you did that, and HIV positive people in the room will feel more comfortable. Even if they don’t come out, they’re thinking, “Here’s someone from an AIDS group, and he’s being really open about it.”
  3. Meet people where they’re at. You need to have a great deal of respect for the people there and what they’re dealing with. There’s a lot going on in their lives. Probably in the back of everyone’s mind, they’re thinking, “I don’t want to be in this shelter anymore.” So it can be hard to engage people in conversation. Maybe the last thing they’re thinking about is going to an action. But they’re probably already angry with the system. You need to find some way to talk about the issue that hits home. If you’re not talking about homeless issues, try to relate the issue you’re focusing on to something that’s happened in their lives. Continue reading

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Filed under African Americans, displacement and gentrification, economic justice, housing, Latina/o communities in the United States, people with AIDS in leadership, Philadelphia, Solidarity Project, stigma