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Breaking the Walls of Silence

AIDS Counseling and Education

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ISBN 13: 9780879515003
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In New York State in the 1980s, one in five women entering prison was infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Those pegged as carriers were ostracized by others fearful that the deadly disease could spread in any number of ways in close quarters. At the maximum-security prison Bedford Hills, a group of women banded together with the support of their superintendent to launch a peer-counseling and education program called ACE. "We are women, convicted of crimes, who, in spite of it all, created something that is making a difference in many people's lives," they write in the introduction to Breaking the Walls of Silence. Their struggles with illness are eclipsed by politics, motherhood, and contentious personal and political issues that have swirled around the program they developed. Safe sex--a linchpin of AIDS prevention--was such a hot-button issue, for example, that ACE was nearly quashed in its infancy because administrative rules insist there is no sex in prison. The volume includes a preface by Whoopi Goldberg. A valuable handbook for any group, in or outside prison, involved in AIDS education, but even more, a testament to the humanity of a group of dedicated women.

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PG Wodehouse