South Carolina prison officials say they have no plans to stop segregating HIV-positive inmates despite the threat of a lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department.
The state faces a Wednesday deadline to change the practice, which prison officials say is best for inmates and prison employees.
All state prisons "are safer from a public health perspective and a security perspective as a direct result of this program," Corrections Department attorney David Tatarsky wrote in an August response to the Department of Justice.
More than 400 HIV-positive inmates are housed together at maximum security prisons in Columbia, including some who would not usually be in such high-security facilities. Infected prisoners attend activities with other inmates, including work, school and faith-based programs, but eat and sleep separately.
"Many inmates with HIV suffer disparate treatment from other similarly situated inmates without HIV," the department wrote to South Carolina officials in June, when it gave them three months to make changes.