Glenn Backes at (916) 202-2538 or Simeon Gant at (916) 444-3751
HOLLYWOOD–Readers opening the Monday edition of the film industry trade paper Variety will not only find the weekend box office report, but a picture of actor-turned-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger next to the headline “Hollywood cares about AIDS. Does Arnold?”
The ad paid for by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Southern California HIV Advocacy Coalition urges Governor Schwarzenegger to sign legislation designed to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C by allowing over-the-counter sales of sterile syringes at licensed pharmacies.
The legislation sponsored by the California Pharmacy Association, California Nurses’ Association and others, and authored by State Senator John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose), SB 1159 would allow pharmacies to sell up to 10 sterile syringes to adults without a prescription. California is one of only five states that still make it illegal for pharmacies to sell a syringe without a prescription. Most states that had similar laws reformed them in order to control the spread of AIDS among drug users, their sexual partners and children.
Studies by the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, universities and other states found that allowing adults to purchase syringes slowed the spread of HIV/AIDS without increasing rates of drug use, crime or unsafe discard of syringes.
“This should be a perfect Schwarzenegger bill,” said Glenn Backes, Director of the Sacramento office of Drug Policy Alliance, “It will save thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, all at no cost to government. It’s a must-sign.”
Asked why proponents targeted the Governor through an entertainment industry journal, Backes said, “We know Governor Schwarzenegger follows industry news, and that entertainment leaders have fought hard for good AIDS policy, going back to Rock Hudson and before.”
The ad displays a list of 30 organizations supporting the legislation including American Liver Foundation, California Medical Association, Diabetes Coalition of California, Kaiser Permanente, California NOW, Sierra Club, major retailers, unions and drug treatment programs.
In California, 20% of AIDS cases are caused by sharing of contaminated syringes; and over 60% of new hepatitis C cases are caused by the same practice.
The entire 80-member Assembly will debate SB 1159 in the coming weeks. As similar bills have passed the legislature in both of the past two years, SB 1159 will likely land on the Governor’s desk by late August. Schwarzenegger will then have thirty days to either sign, veto or allow it to become law without his signature.
To view the ad, click here.