Hundreds of Californians to Gather at Capitol to Call for Drug Treatment, Access to Sterile Syringes to Prevent AIDS and Hepatitis, and Better Care for Homeless

Press Release January 26, 2003
Media Contact

Whitney Taylor (cell) 916-439-6495 or at 916-444-3751 or Glenn Backes at (cell) 916-439-6494

SACRAMENTO–On Wednesday January 29th, hundreds of Californians from around the state will converge on the State Capitol to urge legislators to “Vote for Health.” Over 100 organizations representing physicians, nurses, addiction specialists, veterans, patients and families whose lives have been touched by drugs, AIDS, hepatitis, mental illness and homelessness are scheduled to participate.

The first-ever “Public Health Advocacy Day” will focus specifically on: making sterile syringes more readily available to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis; the protection and expansion of drug treatment; and housing and mental health care for the homeless. Related legislation will be introduced this year by Senators Vasconcellos and Chesbro, who will be speaking on Wednesday. Experts and family members will lobby their legislators to support these policies throughout the afternoon.

WHAT: California’s First Public Health Advocacy Day

WHEN: Wednesday, January 29

Silent vigil for those lost to preventable illness: Noon-1

Speeches by legislators and advocates: 1-1:30pm

Lobbying by families and experts: 1-4:30pm


Dr. Diana Sylvestre, a nationally recognized expert on hepatitis C and addiction, organized Public Health Advocacy Day as a means of improving the state’s health policies and reducing the burden of preventable illness. “Sound public health policy makes sense, both medically and fiscally,” Sylvestre said. “California’s budget crisis threatens major setbacks in the health of the poor, persons of color, and our veterans. We must unite to change this.”

Facts about public health in California:

“Drug treatment and mental health programs are key to preventing death by overdose, AIDS, and hepatitis, and they reduce crime, homelessness and family dissolution as well,” said Glenn Backes, Health Policy Director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We believe that fiscally smart and compassionate legislators can stop the Governor from gutting the State’s commitment to drug treatment and other prevention strategies in favor of a bloated prison budget.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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