NEEDLE EXCHANGE: Poll Says Californians Support Programs
Sixty-nine percent of 1,010 Californians surveyed say they favored the use of needle exchanges to help stop the spread of HIV, according to results from a recent Field Institute poll commissioned by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Support for needle exchange programs crosses geographic, political and ethnic lines, with a majority of whites, Hispanics, Asian Americans and African Americans, as well as residents "in more traditionally conservative regions" of the state voicing their approval, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation said. The poll suggests that Gov. Davis "will be in keeping with his theme of 'governing from the center' if he signs legislation allowing local communities to established needle exchange programs." AB 518, sponsored by Assemblywoman Kerry Mazzoni (D-San Rafael), passed the Senate by a vote of 21-18 on Tuesday. Regina Aragon, director of public policy for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, said of the poll's results, "It reflects the emergence of a consensus among Californians; no longer is needle exchange viewed as divisive." She added that AB 518 "neither mandates nor provides funding for needle exchange programs, but simply removes barriers faced by local governments who choose to establish these life-saving programs." The phone survey was conducted between Aug. 16-22 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.2% (SFAF release, 8/26).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.