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Family to Sue US Government Against HIV Patient's Death in Custody

by VR Sreeraman on August 14, 2007 at 12:50 PM
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Family to Sue US Government Against HIV Patient's Death in Custody

A 23-year-old HIV-positive person, Victor Arrelano, recently died while in custody at an immigration detention center in San Pedro, Calif., the Los Angeles Times reports.

Arrelano's family plans to file a wrongful death suit against the U.S. government that claims Arrelano was denied vital medical treatment while in custody. According to the Times, the case highlights an 'inadequate, even dangerous, medical system for the nearly 30,000 undocumented immigrants in custody nationwide.' Sue.

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Attorneys for Arrelano's family say that while in custody, Arrelano's condition deteriorated to the point that fellow detainees urged staff to provide medical care. Roman Silberfeld, the family's attorney, said that 70 detainees signed a petition urging that Arrelano receive medical attention.

When Arrelano's condition became critical, he was transferred to a San Pedro hospital and died several days later, according to the Times. Lorri Jean -- chief executive of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, which provided treatment to Arrelano two years ago -- said she has 'no doubt' Arrelano died because he was 'denied the medications that [he] needed to stay alive.' Jean said that she and her staff on Monday will discuss Arrelano's death and their concerns about treatment at the detention center with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the Times reports.

Immigration and health services officials on Friday defended the quality of medical care provided at dozens of facilities nationwide. They would not discuss individual cases because of privacy concerns, the Times reports.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation.


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