The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to have health officials study the feasibility of a countywide needle exchange program to help slow the spread of the AIDS virus.
The vote does not authorize any county agency to begin a needle exchange program or sanction exchange programs by private community agencies. But Supervisor Ed Edelman said: "We need an objective study (as to) whether a needle exchange program will help stop the spread of this disease."
Needle exchanges are illegal under state law. But several California cities and counties allow private groups to distribute clean needles to drug users to help prevent the spread of HIV infection.
Last week, the Los Angeles City Council took steps to protect needle exchange programs by asking Mayor Richard Riordan to declare the AIDS epidemic a local public health emergency.