Odessa Summers
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If you’ve had unprotected sex the only way to know if you’ve been infected with the HIV is to take a quick saliva or blood test. It’s free and it’s easy. And then whether you’re negative or positive you can get on with life and, if you test positive, start the really important early treatment.

Today people with HIV who get treatment can live a normal life. But if they don’t — if they avoid the test and treatment — in around 10 to 15 years HIV so severely damages their immune system that AIDS develops.

It hasn’t always been so easy to get tested and treated for HIV.

For 22 years, Philadelphia FIGHT, a comprehensive health services organization providing primary care, consumer education, research, and advocacy for people living with HIV/AIDS has hosted an entire month of free workshops, trainings, and outreach about HIV and AIDS. This year, Life of the Law traveled to Philly to take part in Philadelphia Fight’s inspiring work. On June 15th we presented LIVE LAW – Beyond the Walls: Prison Positive…stories told by people who have done the testing and been tested in the city’s jails and prison.

 

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  • Jessica Falcon produced and hosted Beyond the Walls: Prison Positive and has our first story. Jessica’s pursuing a PhD in biomedical engineering, but uses her spare time to advocate for the HIV positive population in Philadelphia. She is deeply motivated by the cause and says she has chosen activism as her passion. 
  • Waheedah Shabazz-El describes herself as a 50-plus African-American Muslim woman and retired U.S. postal worker who was diagnosed with AIDS in 2003.
  • Sonia Williams is the program officer at First Hospital Foundation, a local health foundation that supports programs that serve the most vulnerable populations in Philadelphia County. While completing her Masters in Public Health, she conducted her internship at the Philadelphia Prison System.
  • Odessa Summers has been the Prison Medical Case Manager at ActionAIDS for 8 years. She’s been doing HIV work for 15 years.
  • Dr. Debra D’Aquilante is a board-certified Infectious Disease specialist for Corizon Health who has been seeing patients in the Philadelphia Prison System for 22 years. She conducts the Infectious Disease Clinic and sees all the incarcerated HIV+ patients, as well as other Infectious Disease consults.

 

 

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Each photo below is a link to more wonderful stories from Live Law Philadelphia – Beyond the Walls: Prison Positive.

Sandy Varghese has been working as a contract monitor for the Philadelphia Department of Prisons for 15 years, and has about 20 years of correctional experience.

Sandy Varghese has been working as a contract monitor for the Philadelphia Department of Prisons for 15 years

Lester "last name unknown"

Lester Faison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph Anderson is 57 year old HIV positive man who was always getting in trouble and going to jail. But now he is living right. With the inspiration from his grandchildren and support from Philadelphia FIGHT, Joseph is taking his medication daily and hopes to one day be a Peer Specialist, motivational speaker, and an AIDS activist.

Joseph Anderson is a 57 year old HIV positive man who was always getting in trouble and going to jail. But now with inspiration from his grandchildren and support from Philadelphia FIGHT, Joseph is taking his medication daily and hopes to one day be a Peer Specialist, motivational speaker, and an AIDS activist.

Vandelyn Phillips RN, is the Regional Vice President for Corizon Health in the Philadelphia Department of Prisons. Ms. Phillips serves as the contract’s chief administrative/operational manager for Physical Health. She has 27 years of correctional experience with 7 years serving in the administrative capacity for Corizon Health in the Philadelphia Department of Prisons.

Vandelyn Phillips RN, is the Regional Vice President for Corizon Health in the Philadelphia Department of Prisons. Ms. Phillips has 27 years of experience working in corrections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PRODUCTION NOTES

Live Law Philadelphia – Beyond the Walls: Prison Positive was a co-production of Life of the Law and Philadelphia FIGHT. The event was produced by Jessica Falcon, Philadelphia FIGHT and Nancy Mullane with special thanks to Hannah Zellman. Sound design by Jonathan Hirsch. Production support was provided by Kirsten Jusewicz-Haidle. Howard Gelman was our engineer.

Music in this episode was from Blue Dot Sessions.

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This episode of Life of the Law was funded in part by grants from the Open Society Foundation, the Law and Society Association, the Proteus Fund and the National Science Foundation, and was sponsored by FreshBooks.

© Copyright 2016 Life of the Law. All rights reserved.

 

  • Such a moving and inspiring podcast. Bravo to Jessica Falcon for producing all of it!!

  • Carol LaMastra Weil

    What an inspiring episode. Way to go, Jessica Falcon, and all the guests.

Life of the Law © 2017