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A California law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eases the restrictions on needle-exchange programs operating in the state by removing a requirement that required regions to declare public health emergencies every two weeks in order for the exchanges to continue operating, according to TheEureka Reporter. Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill last year, but state assemblywoman Patty Berg recruited support from law enforcement and public health groups this year when shepherding the bill through the legislature, and their backing swayed the governor.
"This is a great moment for public health," Humboldt County public health officer Ann Lindsay told the Reporter. "This bill will allow at least six more counties to conduct needle-exchange programs and protect not only injection-drug users but their families from infectious disease."
Supporters of the measure say about 1,500 Californians become infected with HIV each year through shared needles, and about 5,000 contract hepatitis C. (Advocate.com)