Tela Love, a 36-year-old transgender woman who used to work the streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter as a prostitute, has been HIV-positive for nearly 10 years. When she first started exchanging sex for food and drugs, she said local police arrested her after finding condoms in her bag. She was subsequently incarcerated at Orleans Parish Prison, where another inmate forced her to have unprotected sex with him. She later heard he was HIV-positive, she told Al Jazeera.
Love’s experiences with police harassment and sexual violence in prison partly explain why Louisiana’s death rate from AIDS is nearly double the national average, and the New Orleans Metropolitan area has the second-highest rate of new HIV-infections in the United States, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Photo: Gerald Herbert/AP