Assembly Passes Bonta Bill to Reduce Transmission of HIV/AIDS and other STDs in Vulnerable Communities

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bonta’s AB 999 Expands Statewide Successful Public Health Prison Condom Distribution Program  

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Bonta (D-Oakland) was proud to announce that his bill to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other STDs in California prisons passed the Assembly this week. The Prisoner Protections for Family and Community Health Act (AB 999) now moves to the Senate.

“Sexually transmitted disease is a tragic reality of life in prison. The HIV/AIDS infection rate in prison is 8 to 10 times higher than among the general population. Our state must address this unsettling and sometimes disturbing topic head-on and realize that the long-term benefits to vulnerable communities, and to the budget, are well-worth the modest state investment,” explained Assemblymember Bonta.  

“My office carefully evaluated the successful findings of a pilot project that was conducted at Solano State Prison in 2008 and drafted AB 999 as a direct response to those findings. AB 999 requires CDCR to implement a five-year phase-in to distribute condoms at all state prisons in a manner consistent with the Solano Prison pilot project findings.

“By taking this most basic step in stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS, we are not only advocating for the improved health of prisoners, but we are also protecting communities across the state that could potentially be harmed by communicable diseases when former prisoners relocate to neighborhoods upon reentry.

“And if the moral principle of keeping innocent vulnerable populations safe from deadly disease doesn’t compel you,” Bonta emphasized, “the financial considerations are also compelling. According to the California Department of Health Services the average cost per patient with HIV in the Medi-Cal system is $23,964 per year.  Over the life of the patient, a single infection can cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars. The pilot program we studied cost approximately $1.39 per prisoner to implement; and the report concluded that this modest cost of the program paid for itself if the program averted just 2.7 to 5.5 infections per year.

“The Solano pilot project found that when condoms are distributed in prisons, they are used. The condoms don’t increase the incidence of consensual sex or rape, but they do create an inexpensive barrier to a deadly disease.  I am proud to take a leadership role on this issue and stand up for the vulnerable communities who are being affected by this devastating and preventable cycle of disease,” concluded Bonta.

Support for the bill includes the AIDS Project Los Angeles, Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Diseases, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the California Academy of Preventive Medicine, California Prevention and Education Project, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety, Allen Temple Health & Social Services Ministries, and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. 

Visit AB 999 to read the full text of the bill.

Assemblymember Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. He is the Chair of the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee and the Select Committee on Gun Violence in the East Bay. He is a member of the Assembly Health, Transportation, Banking & Finance, and Elections & Redistricting Committees.