Gwinnett Teen Jailed For Refusing TB Treatment

AP, August 27, 2007

Gwinnett officials placed a 17-year-old boy in jail on Friday after he refused treatment for tuberculosis.

When doctors told Francisco Santos he had tuberculosis, Santos said he was walking out of the Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville and heading back to his home country of Mexico, officials said.

“I think he was scared,” said David Will, attorney for the Gwinnett County Board of Health.

Will said Santos was detained because he is a public health threat.

“He has active, contagious TB,” Will said Saturday. “He is at risk of communicating that with anybody he comes in contact with.”

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Santos is the only inmate in a special medical isolation cell designed for inmates with contagious conditions. The cell, which measures about 15 feet by 20 feet, has a special ventilation system that keeps the air from reaching other inmates.

The teenager has a toilet, sink, bed and a mirror made of polished metal. Two deputies guard him and the other medical inmates.

Will said Santos will remain in jail until either he accepts treatment. Santos could be placed in a hospital with security at a Sept. 5 commitment hearing.

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Santos said he was born in Mexico. The status of his citizenship was not known.

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