[un]seen: Intertwined Epidemics

Despite medical advances and preventative measures, new cases of HIV in the United States have remained at around 50,000 a year for over a decade.  When it first emerged, the virus was concentrated primarily in communities with urban, white, gay men. Later it shifted to injection drug users and poverty-stricken communities.  These same communities are those most familiar with incarceration in the U.S.

HIV is now intricately intertwined with incarcerated populations. Today, prisoners shoulder a burden of HIV several-fold greater than that of the general population and a significant proportion of HIV-infected Americans are incarcerated.  In some states, HIV prevalence rates in correctional facilities are as much as six times that of the general U.S. population.  In North Carolina, approximately two percent of the prison population is infected with the virus.  

Although prisons provide opportunities to identify and treat HIV for those in the system, there are few services in place to continue treatment after release.  Prisoners face a variety of barriers, many of which take precedence over their HIV care.  These include being unable to receive federal loans, subsidized housing or federal jobs. Upon release, many prisoners are homeless, need substance abuse counseling, mental health care, job training, or parenting classes. For prisoners, the post-release period presents the greatest challenge to their HIV care.  Unseen will show you a glimpse into the lives of two people in North Carolina living with HIV after incarceration.  


roles: videographer + editor