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Florida man says his HIV-positive partner incarcerated in Georgia not getting proper treatment

John Edmonson, a businessman from Jacksonville, tells The Florida Independent that his HIV-positive partner has not received adequate medical treatment after being arrested in early April.

Edmonson says his partner — whom he asked us to keep anonymous — was diagnosed with AIDS in 1998, and since then has had an average body weight of 185 pounds. ”During his first 30 to 45 days in lockup he lost six to eight pounds,” Edmonson says, and because of his HIV status, “we brought this to the court’s attention.”

“The [facility] doctor testified that some body weight loss was normal because of the stress for someone who has never been incarcerated before,” he says.

Since the man’s arrest on April 1, he has lost 61 pounds and the loss of body weight “still has not been explained,” Edmonson says, adding that staff doctors at the detention centers have promised to do something, but nothing positive has happened.

According to Edmonson, his partner was arrested in Jacksonville, Fla., and indicted on eight counts of receipt, possession, advertising and distribution of child pornography. His partner has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Edmonson’s partner was first held at the D. Ray James Correctional Facility in Folkston, Ga., owned and operated by The GEO Group, “a world leader in the delivery of private correctional and detention management,” with facilities in the U.S., Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Edmondson says that, since late September, his partner has been detained at the Irwin County Detention Facility, owned and operated by Croft Michael Enterprises. Both are located in Ocilla, Ga.

“We’re not doctors, but ever since he’s been positive we’ve done a lot of research on HIV and AIDS,” Edmonson says. His partner is on a three-drug regimen he needs to take daily, “and they tell you there are three rules: Take it at the same time everyday, because the cocktail needs to stay in your bloodstream constantly over a 24-hour period.”

“The second rule is you take them every day, you don’t miss a dose, and the third rule is you take them with food,” Edmonson says, adding that when his partner “was first detained in Georgia, they missed several doses. When he did get it, he either didn’t get it at the same time every day or without food, so it was given improperly.”

According to the Well Project, a nonprofit, HIV education group:

  • HIV drugs need to stay in a patient’s blood at certain levels to fight HIV. If the level falls too low, the drugs cannot work well.
  • Not taking medicines on schedule may allow HIV to make copies of itself and even change. These mutations can help the virus survive; this is called resistance.
  • When HIV becomes resistant to a drug a patient is taking, that drug will probably stop working. This may lead to an increase in one’s viral load and a decrease in one’s CD4 cell count. At that point, the patient will probably have to switch to another HIV drug.

Edmonson adds, “We have been back to court this past month three or four times,” adding that Judge James Klindt, faced with the detainee’s weight loss, said he would seek a suitable third party custodian to release his partner to so he can get back to his doctor. The final decision on the release is due next Monday.

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