Majority of State Residents Support Access to Clean Needles for Illicit Drug Users, Condoms for Prisoners
A majority of California residents support state programs to provide clean needles to illicit drug users and condoms to prisoners, according to a statewide survey released yesterday, the Contra Costa Times reports. The telephone survey, conducted by the Department of Health Services and the University of California-Berkeley from April to June 2000, asked 1,739 state residents about their risk behaviors and HIV/AIDS knowledge. The survey found that 62% of respondents support state-funded needle-exchange programs and condom distribution in prisons. In addition, the survey found that a majority of California residents favor mandatory HIV tests for pregnant women, laws to require physicians to report HIV/AIDS cases to the state and mandated distribution of clean needles to illicit drug users in prison. "These clearly make sense, and the survey indicates strong support that the state should pay for these programs," Joel Moskowitz, lead researcher of the survey, said. However, many state officials criticize distribution of clean needles to illicit drug users as "antithetical to California's war on drugs," the Times reports. According to Terry Thornton, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections, some state officials also oppose distribution of condoms to prisoners because they could use them to hide contraband or as a weapon. In addition, California law prohibits sexual activity in state prisons, and condom distribution to prisoners would "send a mixed message," Thornton added (English, Contra Costa Times, 11/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.