Action Alert For Imprisoned AIDS Activist
Thu, 5 Dec 1996 17:22:42 +0100 (MET)


Karl Dimitrov, a volunteer at the local AIDS support and advocacy group
AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI) who has had full-blown AIDS since April is
not receiving adequate medical care in the Vancouver Island Regional
Correctional Centre (VIRCC).

'There's no medical help here at all. They don't care.' said Dimitrov
about the staff at VIRCC in a radio interview.

Karl has been exposed to Hepatitis C, pneumonia and other aliments which
in his advanced stage of AIDS could easily cause death. Despite this the
jail Doctor, Dr. Henry, refuses to allow Karl to be admitted to the local
hospital, citing the expense as being too high. Karl also has been denied
visits to his specialist, Dr. Jagdis, and is only being given Motrin for
his pain. He is receiving Boost meal supplements 1x a day when he needs
to be receiving it 4x a day. As well, Karl needs to see a liver
specialist; Dr. Buckley and the jail refuses to bring him to this doctor.
Lastly, his sinuses need draining by a throat, nose and ears specialist.

The jail has one doctor who visits twice a week to care for 275 or more
people. Dr. Henry has no experience with AIDS and is refusing to admit
that Karl has a chest problem despite consistent pain. Karl has also
been having severe migraines and arthritis which need to be dealt with.
Karl has been moved cell six times in the last month. His personal
property has been 'lost' so he no longer has any of the notes he was
keeping on what goes on in the jail. Guards have been giving him a rough
time, accusing him of being a thief so as to alienate him from fellow
inmates. The cells are constantly too cold and dusty. Most recently Karl
has been moved into protective custody for no apparent reason (this means
he will be unable to ever enter the general population of a KKKanadian
jail again). He was at times in16 hour lock-up.

The Director of the VIRCC Mr. Bert Phipps has refused to talk to prison
advocates in town, and insists to local college paper The Martlet that
'there is an adequate level of health care here.'

This is the prison where an inmate recently suffered a heart attack and
was only given oxygen (no hospital care) and where the last inmate to die
of AIDS was only taken to the hospital eight hours before his death. The
stress of this environment is hastening the deterioration of Karl's
condition. As well, the staff are clearly prejudiced against people with
AIDS as illustrated by a nurse's remarks at a hearing that some of the
HIV inmates have a 'lack of hygiene' and 'questionable practices'. Karl
himself was refused the chance to be seen by a specialist upon arrival at
the prison, and has only been allowed to see one since a recent bail hearing.

We are asking you to fax or phone the Director to demand that Karl
receive proper health care;

Director Bert Phipps
Phone: 250-387-1581
Fax: 250-727-5001

Karl is being charged with two counts of assault, threat to cause death
or bodily harm and mischief. He attempted to stop a neighbour who was
assaulting his wife on October 10th. Police were called and told of Rfour
drug natives with knivesU They arrived to see Karl and his wife
Maurgareta (who is part native) completely unarmed. They proceeded to
pepper spray the two of them and arrested them. On the way into the
police car, Karl was hit in the mouth by a cop who later accused Karl of
biting him to give him AIDS (which later was the grounds on which Karl
was denied bail). Karl was again pepper sprayed and beaten underneath a
blanket upon arrival at the police station. Maurgareta was beaten by the
police as well.