Sunday, June 23, 1996

Barbara McLintock
Staff Reporter

HIV Hooker A Dilemma for Court

VICTORIA - Everybody agrees Carol Russell doesn't belong in jail.

But that's where she may end up.

Russell is schizophrenic. She's HIV-positive, and doctors think she is showing the first symptoms of AIDS.

She's also a hooker and an intravenous drug user.

And when she's in one of her psychotic states, she shares needles and disposes of them carelessly, has unprotected sex and doesn't tell her johns that she has the human ummunodeficiency virus.

For now, provincial court Judge Brian Mackenzie has sent Russell, 38 to Coquitlam's Forensic Psychiatric Institute for a 30-day assessment and to try to find a placement that'll work for her. She was in court for breach of probation for a previous assault.

When Russell is taking her anti-psychotic medication and staying off the streets, "she's a very pleasant person," Dr. Richard Stanwick, Capital Region medical health officer, told the judge. "She understands the dangers of HIV, and she's not a risk to others."

But left on her own, Russell drifts back to street prostitution and cocaine and stops taking her medication.

Stanwick testified that when he saw Russell last week, "She told me cocaine was a legal drug and that you could shoot up in front of police and nothing would happen to you."

Outside court, Stanwick said Russell is an example of what happens when mental institutions are downsized.

"We need facilities that can meet their needs and protect then public," he said.

Some people like Russell, he said, are just too much of a risk to themselves and others when left in the community without 24-hour supervision.

Stanwick will seek a court order detaining Russell, probably in a hospital, if it's the only way to protect her.

He's optimistic the mental-health community will present a solution to the judge when she returns July 23.

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Created: July 4, 1996
Last modified: July 2, 1997

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