In the late 1980's the New York State prison system was overwhelmed by HIV/AIDS among its inmate population. Not yet understanding how the disease was spread, prisons developed "AIDS wards" to isolate infected inmates. Because infected inmates progressed rapidly from HIV to full blown AIDS, even inmates who were incarcerated for minor crimes faced the possibility of dying in prison.
At Sing Sing prison a group of nuns and priests made regular visits to say Mass and offer counseling and support of infected inmates and their families.