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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”



Californians Support Needle Exchange, Condoms for Prisoners
Contra Costa Times
11.13.02; Taunya English

According to a survey conducted by the state Department of Health Services and the University of California-Berkeley, the majority of Californians support access to clean needles for injection drug users and condoms for prisoners to fight the spread of HIV.

"These clearly make sense and the survey indicates strong support that the state should pay for these programs," said lead researcher Joel Moskowitz. While Contra Costa and Alameda counties declared local states of emergency in 1999 to access county money for needle exchange programs, most California counties prohibit the use of county funds for such programs. Sexual activity is illegal in state prisons, and distributing condoms would send a mixed message, said Terry Thornton, spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections.



The survey showed that 62 percent of Californians believe condoms for prisoners and needle exchange policies are effective and support state funding to carry them out. Fifty percent or more of Californians support requiring HIV testing for pregnant women, requiring physicians to report HIV cases to the state, and providing clean needles to injection drug users in prison. "These are more radical than some of the current approaches," said Maya Tholandi, a study co-author from the state Office of AIDS. Ten to 19 percent of California's 126,000 reported AIDS cases can be traced to injection drug use, she said.

Nearly everyone who participated in the telephone survey correctly answered questions about the likely methods of contracting HIV, such as having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive person or sharing a needle with someone with HIV.