New hope for prisoners with HIV and AIDS

Tian Shengjie
On World AIDS Day, Shanghai's prisons reveal their continuing efforts to help inmates overcome their despair and set them on a path to rehabilitation as useful members of society.
Tian Shengjie

Shanghai prisons are trying to give new hope to lawbreakers with HIV and AIDS with social care and advanced medical treatment.

December 1 is World AIDS Day and activities on AIDS control and prevention, including seminars and lectures, were held at Shanghai Temporary Prison and Shanghai Prison General Hospital this week.

In Shanghai, male and female prisoners with HIV and AIDS are put in the temporary prison and local women's prison, respectively. Those who have severe problems such as complications and low immunity are generally transferred to the prison hospital.

"Many prisoners do not know that they are HIV carriers before the must-do physical examination in prison," said Tang Huijie, deputy director of the cell block for inmates with HIV and AIDS in the temporary prison.

New hope for prisoners with HIV and AIDS
Ti Gong

Inmates perform tai chi at Shanghai Temporary Prison on Friday.

How to make these prisoners not give up hope is an important issue.

"Prisoners with HIV and AIDS often fall into despair and inferiority complex due to their lack of awareness of the disease and social support. This is an obstacle for them to live and rehabilitate," Tang said.

Enhancing education on HIV and AIDS is carried out in the prison, and inmates could feel that their physical condition was constantly improving after being treated, he said.

Advanced AIDS and HIV treatment and management was also discussed by officials from local disease control and prevention centers, SDT and AIDS prevention and control association and public hospitals during the first seminar about AIDS prevention and control in Shanghai prisons on Wednesday.

Cultural activities, such as tai chi, choral singing and poetry reading are also held in Shanghai prisons for inmates' psychological health.

"Most of the prisoners will return to the society. Psychological and physical health is connected with social stability," Tang said. "Social assistance and acceptance are crucial."

On Friday, the Shanghai Social Assistance and Education Volunteers Association signed up five more inmates with HIV and AIDS in the temporary prison for one-to-one help.

New hope for prisoners with HIV and AIDS
Ti Gong

Social workers help prisoners with HIV and AIDS solve personal problems at Shanghai Temporary Prison.

At present, 10 prisoners with such illnesses have specific social workers to help them solve problems, including household registration and social security.

A prisoner with HIV, surnamed Zhu, said: "Thank you (social worker) Chen Guosheng for helping me solve personal problems. He went to the judicial office, court, subdistrict office and my home many times which enhanced my confidence in rehabilitation."

Tang said: "After the prisoners are released, the assistance of social workers will be extended. We need to let them know that they are not abandoned by society so don't abandon themselves."

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