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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews from Around Banderas Bay | February 2009 

V.E.S. Mobile Detection Team Goes to Jail
email this pageprint this pageemail usEd Thomas - PVNN

CAPASITS Administrator Alondra Martinez Mendizabal, V.E.S. Volunteer Sergio Rebolledo M.,C APASITS Social Worker Evangelina Delgado, V.E.S. Health Promoter Ismael Mendoza Solano and CAPASITS Psychologist Paloma Martinez Mendizabal
Last November, Vallarta Enfrenta el SIDA Executive Director Paco Arjona, Health Promoter Ismael Mendoza Solano and volunteer Sergio Rebelledo M. went out to the CEINJURE (Centro Integral de Justicia Costa Norte) jail in Ixtapa to speak with Prison Director Armando Plata Cuellar, Psychologist Gabriella Penaloza and Social Services Coordinator Noe Arellano about the services V.E.S. provides and to explore the possibility of administering HIV rapid testing to the inmates.

Thanks to the information already provided to them by CAPASITS (Centro Ambulatorio para la Prevencion y Atencion del VIH/SIDA e Infecciones de Transmission Sexual,) the interns were already well informed about the rapid testing and HIV counseling services provided by V.E.S., so they agreed to let the team come in and offer the prisoners free HIV testing and education from January 28-30, 2009.

It is not an easy task to set up this type of program in a prison - especially when you need to bring in your own equipment and supplies. The jail requires a one week's notice as to all the material you will be bringing in and the names of all of the members of your crew so they can be cleared for admittance. Also there were many clothing restrictions we had to abide by, as we were guests and wanted to leave when we were finished.

When the VES Mobile Detection Team conducts tests, we always bring in lots of information pamphlets about HIV, STDs and safe sex practices, along with free condoms. We were grateful that we were allowed to bring in all of our supplies for set up and distribution in the same manner that we normally conduct health fairs.

On Wednesday, January 28th the VES team arrived at the jail with help from CAPASITS. CEINJURE provided one of their psychologists and a nurse to work along with our team.

The Ixtapa jail houses 800 male and 100 female inmates, divided into three sections: male general population, men's maximum security and a women's area. We did not test the women, as the doctor and nurse on staff have been handling that, so we set out by bringing in men from the first two dorms and telling them about HIV, the tests that we perform, and what they mean.

As each group of men returned to their dorms inmates from the next two dorms were brought in, which helped us to educate all of the male prisoners as to what we were doing in the most timely fashion so that everybody had the option of taking the test if they so desired.

Over three days of testing the team conducted 230 HIV tests, gave out 800 condoms and distributed more than 600 educational brochures. All in all, we considered it a big step in getting the word out about the importance of HIV awareness and testing.

We would like to thank the staff at CEINJURE for being so helpful and supportive of our efforts to educate and test all of the inmates who were willing to hear what we had to say - and for letting our staff and volunteers leave when we were finished!

The Ixtapa jail houses 800 male and 100 female inmates, divided into three sections: male general population, men's maximum security and a women's area

Puerto Vallarta's HIV/AIDS non-profit organization, Vallarta Enfrenta el SIDA, and CAPASITS, work together to provide high-quality medical care, counseling and psychological support, education and prevention programs, and outreach to at-risk communities in the Banderas Bay area. For information, assistance, or to volunteer or donate, please visit To learn more about VES, click HERE.

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