California Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs, Vetoes HIV/AIDS-Related Bills
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) recently took action on various pieces of legislation, including two HIV/AIDS-related bills that he signed into law, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports. The first bill (AB 110), sponsored by Assembly member John Laird (D), repeals a ban on using state funds to purchase clean needles and syringes for distribution by needle-exchange programs, according to the AP/Mercury News reports (Young, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 10/15). Needle-exchange programs are legal in California but only if authorized by a city or county. Local and state funding of such programs is legal, but California previously prohibited the use of state grants to purchase needles for the programs. Needle-exchange programs are ineligible for federal funding (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/7).
Schwarzenegger also signed into law a bill (AB 682) -- sponsored by Assembly members Patty Berg (D), Bonnie Garcia (R) and Jared Huffman (D) -- that aims to increase the number of people tested for HIV in the state (AIDS Healthcare Foundation release 10/12). Instead of providing written consent for HIV tests, patients under the bill routinely will receive the tests from doctors and hospitals unless they decline to be tested (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/12). The bill was co-sponsored by AHF, the California Medical Association and the Health Officers Association of California (AHF release, 10/12).
Prison Condom Bill
Schwarzenegger also vetoed a measure (AB 1334) that would have provided 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, 10/15). The bill, sponsored by Assembly member Sandre Swanson (D), would have required prison officials to allow agencies to distribute condoms and dental dams to prison inmates. Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar measure (AB 1677) last year that would have allowed not-for-profit organizations to distribute condoms, dental dams or "other sex-related protective devices" to California's 162,000 prison inmates (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/10).
In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said he will direct the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to establish a pilot program in one state prison to examine the risks and viability of a condom-distribution program in preventing the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among inmates (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 10/15).
The veto message is available online (.pdf).