California Would Provide Prison Inmates With Condoms To Help Reduce Spread Of HIV

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The California Senate on Thursday voted 21-18 to approve a measure (AB 1334) that would provide prison inmates in the state with condoms in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV, the Los Angeles Times reports (McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 9/7).

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A similar measure (AB 1677)was vetoed last year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). The bill wouldhave allowed not-for-profit organizations to distribute condoms inprisons. The bill, proposed by Assembly member Paul Koretz (D), wouldhave allowed public health organizations to distribute condoms, dentaldams or "other sex-related protective devices" to California's 162,000prison inmates. The bill was sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AIDS Project Los Angeles and the Southern California HIV Advocacy Coalition (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/20/06).

According to the Times,there was a "largely partisan split" over the new legislation. Thebill, sponsored by Assembly member Sandre Swanson (D), would requireprison officials to allow agencies to distribute condoms and dentaldams to prison inmates. Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas (D) argued in favor ofthe bill, saying it is needed to address the high number of HIV casesamong prisoners. The bill is needed to help the state "fight thisdreaded phenomenon," Ridley-Thomas said. Sen. George Runner (R) saiddistributing condoms would condone illegal behavior. "It seemsincredibly inconsistent for us to say that this behavior is notacceptable in prisons and then to provide devices to assist in thatbehavior," he said. Supporters of the new measure say they hope thatthey have addressed the administration's concerns with the previousbill and that it will be signed into law this year (Los Angeles Times, 9/7).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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