NEEDLE EXCHANGE: Chronicle Urges Yes on State Law
"There is no longer any doubt that needle exchanges help reduce the transmission of AIDS among intravenous drug users, and it's high time that California legalizes such programs," declares an editorial in today's San Francisco Chronicle. The paper throws its support behind a bill authored by Assemblywoman Kerry Mazzoni (D-San Rafael) that would allow local governments to voluntarily fund needle-exchange programs. Current state law prohibits "distribution or possession of hypodermic needles without a prescription." The bill, which has already passed in the Assembly, awaits a vote in the state Senate and a decision by Gov. Davis. The Chronicle argues that needle exchange programs "are an inexpensive way of reaching drug addicts at a cost of 10 cents per syringe," compared to the estimated $120,000 cost of lifetime treatment for an AIDS patient. The editorial offers the success of a San Francisco program -- which has been operating legally since 1993 under a local health emergency -- as evidence that needle exchanges work. The Chronicle concludes, "It is a humane, sensible and life-saving measure that deserves an aye vote in the Senate and the signature of Gov. Davis" (8/16).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.