Sero has received scores of letters from people with HIV and/or hepatitis who are incarcerated, many on charges arising from their HIV or hepatitis viral status. Cindy Stine coordinates our response to these inquiries, provides research assistance and sometimes is able to help find legal counsel or other needed resources.
From this informal and growing network, it became clear that many people who are incarcerated have unique knowledge about effective strategies to maintain good health and access healthcare while behind bars.
(Left to right): Cindy Stine, Reed Vreeland (Housing Works), Laura Whitehorn, Sean Strub, Tre Alexander (Philadelphia FIGHT), Akil Patterson (The Osborne Association) at the initial Turn It Up! Planning meeting, September 2014, Milford, PA. Present but not pictured are Suzy Martin (Prison Health News), Robert Suttle and Matt Ebert
Last September, Sero gathered a group of people who have been incarcerated or work with those who are, as well as HIV and hepatitis experts.
We spent time brainstorming how we could facilitate the sharing of advice, insights and tips from people who are in prisons or jails concerning how they stay as healthy as possible.
That led to the creation of Turn It Up! a new print resource guide for people with HIV and/or hepatitis who are incarcerated, as well as those newly-released from prison or jail and their friends and families.
Written and edited in large part by people who have themselves been incarcerated and/or have HIV and/or hepatitis, Turn It Up! will help those serving time navigate healthcare and stay as healthy as possible.
Laura Whitehorn and Suzy Martin, two longtime and prison reform activists, editors and HIV experts, are co-editing Turn It Up! They are both former editors at POZ magazine and Suzy works closely with Prison Health News.
To produce Turn It Up!, they worked with more than two dozen others, including contributors from prisons and jails in a dozen states, bringing an authentic, passionate and informed voice to the pages of Turn It Up! We've included here a few excerpts from notes Sero has received from some of the contributors.
We are nearing completion of Turn It Up and our challenge now is to get it distributed to those who need it the most. We have launched a modest Kickstarter campaign, that includes a video explaining the project, which we hope will raise at least $5,000 to help with distribution costs.
Can you take a moment now to donate? It costs about $2 to send a copy to a person who is incarcerated; for example, your gift of $100 will help us deliver Turn It Up to about 50 people.
Thank you for your support.
With your help, soon thousands of copies of Turn It Up! will be distributed at prisons and jails across the country, helping to improve quality life and health outcomes for those who are incarcerated.
While our budget is small, we have provided small stipends to some of those who are incarcerated who contributed their ideas and writing to Turn It Up! The response to that gesture has been humbling, including from some contributors, like in the note below, who said he normally wouldn't accept anything for this but he's trying to get a new shirt for his parole board hearing.
Sero is a national network of people with HIV and allies fighting HIV-related stigma, discrimination and criminalization by engaging and empowering ourselves and others with HIV to speak and advocate, conduct original research, document the experiences of those criminalized, educate communities and work in partnership with others to mobilize for change.
We particularly work to support and strengthen networks of people with HIV, especially those representing key populations, to bring their voice and insight to the discussion and development of policy, delivery of services and the media.
Cindy Stine, Laura Whitehorn, Suzy Martin, Tami Haught, Robert Suttle, Kerry Thomas, Cecilia Chung, Xavier Morales, Sean Strub and the entire
Turn It Up! and Sero team