LOS ANGELES : AIDS Organizations Attack Veto of Needle Bill

Local AIDS organizations attacked Gov. Pete Wilson's veto last week of measures that would lift the ban on distributing hypodermic needles to intravenous drug users who are at risk of contracting the AIDS virus.

"Failure to provide clean needles to people at risk for HIV infection is an act of criminal negligence," said Gunther Freehill, executive director of the AIDS Regional Board in Los Angeles County, on Thursday.

A bill passed by the Legislature in August would have allowed needle and syringe exchange pilot projects in Los Angeles County, San Francisco and other areas.

In his veto message, Wilson argued that communities with needle exchange programs would become "a magnet for IV drug users." Four days later, the governor vetoed an almost identical bill by state Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) that would have authorized needle exchange pilot programs.

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