Pubdate: Thu, 26 Aug 1999
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Mercury Center


SACRAMENTO - Trying to slow the spread of AIDS, the Legislature
has sent Gov. Gray Davis a bill that would let cities and counties set
up needle-exchange programs for drug addicts.

The measure, which passed the Senate 21-18 on Tuesday and was approved
earlier by the Assembly, would authorize programs under which addicts
could trade used hypodermic needles for new ones in an attempt to
reduce the transmission of AIDS, hepatitis and other blood-borne
diseases through needle sharing.

Attempts to enact needle-exchange programs have had a rocky history in
California. There have been at least six other needle-exchange bills
introduced since 1993.

Current state law, with a few exceptions, prohibits the furnishing,
possession or use of hypodermic needles or syringes without a doctor's

46our California cities -- Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Francisco and
Santa Cruz -- and Marin County have adopted emergency ordinances
allowing needle exchanges.

Opponents of the bill have questioned the accuracy of studies
concluding that exchange programs reduce the spread of the AIDS virus.
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