Pubdate: Thu, 13 May 1999
Source: United Press International
Copyright: 1999 United Press International


SACRAMENTO, May 13 (UPI) - Previously vetoed legislation that would
authorize needle exchange programs to slow the spread of AIDS and other
infectious diseases has advanced to the California Senate.

The Assembly passed the bill by Assemblywoman Kerry Mazzoni, D-San Rafael,
today with two votes to spare over objections that it would condone illegal
drug use.

Mazzoni and Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, D-Los Angeles, insisted the key
issue isn't drugs but safeguarding public health.

The bill would authorize local governments to voluntarily implement clean
needle and syringe exchange programs in their jurisdictions, mainly to fight
the spread of HIV and hepatitis.

Mazzoni says injection drug users are most at risk of contracting those
diseases because they can't find sterile needles and share contaminated

The bill requires programs in which users exchange old needles for clean
ones to develop operating procedures, a data base and data collection system
to keep track of hypodermic needles and syringes that are furnished and
replaced, and protect providers and users from criminal penalties.

Proponents say California already has more than a dozen local needle
exchange programs that which were authorized as emergency health measures.
But they say cities and counties want a state law to give them legal

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