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AIDS Project Los Angeles is calling on the California senate to pass a bill allowing for condom distribution in prisons before the end of the current legislative session, set to end in early September. The bill, AB 677, would allow nonprofit groups and health agencies to distribute condoms in the state's prisons. The measure was bogged down last week in the senate appropriations committee, where it appears it will die unless lawmakers seek a rules waiver to move it out of committee.
Condoms are already available in city jails in Los Angeles and San Francisco and are distributed in jails in several other states, including Mississippi. Most other Western nations also make condoms available to prisoners to protect themselves against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
"Everyone knows there is sex in prisons," said APLA executive director Craig E. Thompson. "Condom distribution in prisons is a commonsense public health measure that the legislature can adopt to help stop the spread of AIDS. The legislature needs to step up to the plate and pass this measure now."
"If the state senate fails to act, then the senators can only expect to see--and to pay for--needless increases in HIV infections across the state," Thompson said.