HIV/AIDS: Lawmakers Introduce Needle Exchange, Tracking Measures
California Assemblywoman Kerry Mazzoni (D-San Rafael) has introduced a measure, AB 518, that would legalize needle exchange programs in the state. While syringes "cannot be legally obtained in California without a prescription," the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that several California counties, including Sonoma, "quietly flou[t]" state law prohibiting the programs. Mazzoni said "the scientific evidence on the benefits of needle exchange programs is clear." Mazzoni introduced a similar bill in 1994, but it was defeated in committee.
Also hoping to cash in on a "presumably more sympathetic governor," Asssemblywoman Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill, AB 103, that would "create a state registry to track HIV infections" using codes rather than names. A previous version of Migden's measure was vetoed last year by then-Gov. Pete Wilson (R) because he was opposed to the code-based tracking system. In keeping with his policy not to comment on pending legislation, Davis has not taken a position on either bill, but in a pre-election questionnaire he said he supports "carefully controlled and monitored" needle exchange programs (Sweeney, 2/19).