Thomas E. Best

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In Harris v. Thigpen, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld an Alabama statute which requires that all incoming prison inmates in correctional facilities be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, including the presence of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus disease ("HIV disease"). Carmen Harris, an inmate in the Alabama Correctional System whose tests showed the presence of HIV disease, brought this action challenging the mandatory testing and forced segregation from the general prison population of inmates who tested positive. On appeal, plaintiff brought three constitutional challenges and a statutory challenge: the inadequate medical care provided to HIV-positive inmates violated the Eighth Amendment; the segregation of HIV-positive inmates from the general population violated the constitutional right to privacy; the inadequate library privileges denied the HIV-positive inmates their constitutional right of access to the courts; and the exclusion from general population activities violated 29 U.S.C. § 794, commonly referred to as the Rehabilitation Act ("section 504"). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the trial court's decision, holding that neither the Eighth Amendment's right to adequate medical care nor the Fourteenth Amendment's right to privacy had been violated, and remanded the case for further findings of fact on the issues of access to court and section 504.

This Casenote begins with a brief background of HIV testing and how correctional facilities have coped with HIV disease. It then examines the challenges plaintiff brought as applied in other cases and surveys challenges brought in similar situations. Finally, the Casenote .examines and analyzes the case itself.