POSITIVELY AWARE May/June 2012
What our incarcerated readers should know
Over the years of receiving letters from readers who are behind bars, there have been a handful of issues that have come up repeatedly. It seemed appropriate to address them in this issue.
Not receiving PA
We frequently hear from inmates who complain of not getting their “monthly issues,” of having requested a subscription but never received magazines, or of having moved and not having their subscription follow them.
First, Positively Aware is published every other month, so no one will receive an issue monthly.
For those who’ve requested subscriptions but haven’t received them, there may be several reasons. Prison mailrooms may have regulations we don’t know about. One is that some require complete return addresses. Because of confidentiality policy, PA is shipped in a plain manila envelope with only our street address, not the name of the magazine. Also, PA is held together with staples, which are evidently sometimes viewed as dangerous. If you haven’t received your magazines, it might be wise to check with the mailroom or other prison authority to see if there is a regulatory reason you’re not receiving them.
As a last resort, you could always request that PA be sent to someone on the outside who could then send it to you in compliance with regulations.
Changes of address
PA is shipped through a mailing house and we have no control over how quickly they process any changes made to the subscription list. While most inmates write to tell us of their change of address in time to have uninterrupted delivery of their magazines, there may be some lag time during which you might not receive your issue.
If you’ve gone for three months without receiving PA, write to us again so we can make sure your change of address was recorded.
What we don’t do
Mail that we receive from inmates is often disturbing, even heartbreaking. We hear of the anguish they suffer trying to keep their HIV a secret and of loneliness and the desire to connect with people on the outside.
While we feel compassion for our incarcerated readers, we do not publish personal ads, run a dating service, or arrange for pen pals. Our purpose is more medical than social and unfortunately we have neither the staff nor resources to provide those things.
We are also not a clearinghouse for other publications. Inmates should write Prisoner Activist Resource Center (PARC), PO Box 70447, Oakland, CA 94612 for a directory of information resources on many topics, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.
Knowledge is power
We hope that Positively Aware informs, encourages, and empowers you to take care of your health, even while dealing with the challenges of prison life. We hope that you’ll share your knowledge with other inmates, both HIV-positive and not, so there will be better understanding of how HIV is spread and more will protect themselves and others.
The circumstances that bring people to prison are as varied as the ones that result in them being HIV-positive. In order to survive both, knowledge—of yourself, your body, your choices, and your potential—is key and with that knowledge comes hope.