La Victoria is one of the country’s largest prisons. It was built in 1954 with a capacity for 800 people, but now houses about five thousand men.
According to the register of the Departamento Médico de la Dirección General de Prisiones (Medical Department of the General Direction of Prisons), in September 2015 there were about 148 cases of hiv, of which 24% presented co-infection with tuberculosis. That same report reveals that patients are transferred to areas of quarantine to prevent the spread of the disease.
One of these cases is Joseph, who has been in prison for about three years due to possession of marijuana. He looked dehydrated, with skin lesions, and visible signs of Candida in his lips. “This is a hell, we are dead in life. Nobody cares about us, we sleep on the floor, with nothing, like canned sardines, one above the other. They give us medicines, but sometimes I can’t take them, because I don’t have something to eat. If my family hasn’t brought me something, I spend days without taking my pills.”
On the other hand, in 2009 an investigation made by UNAIDS, revealed that in the Dominican Republic 72% of prisoners were sexually active within the prisons.
The report also highlighted the lack of information related to hiv, especially with regard to the routes of transmission. Wrong ideas such as “contagion” by sharing food, giving a hug or living in the same cell boost discriminatory actions towards people with hiv.
Finally, many activists nationwide agree that there are multiple violations of human rights in Dominican prisons. They also stated that no one has stated in this regard, no actions are carried out. Let us remember that all prisoners are still human and have universal rights.