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Syringe Exchange and AB 136: The Dynamics of Local Consideration in Six California Communities

More than one-third of all reported AIDS cases in the United States have occurred among injection drug users, their partners, and their children. Public health experts have identified access to sterile syringes as one component of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy designed to reduce HIV transmission among injection drug users. However, others strongly oppose needle exchange, feeling that it promotes drug use and debates about syringe access continue, as does a federal ban on the use of federal funding for syringe exchange programs. This ban, combined with the fact that laws governing syringe access are generally the purview of the states, places the state and local policy role concerning syringe access at the center of the policy debate.

A new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Syringe Exchange and AB 136: The Dynamics of Local Consideration in Six California Communities, provides a qualitative assessment of California’s Assembly Bill (AB) 136, which authorizes the operation of syringe exchange programs within the state after a local declaration of emergency. The study is based on interviews with key stakeholders in six California county and city jurisdictions.