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Legislative findings   

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The Legislature further finds and declares all of the following:

(a) Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the virus human T-cell lymphotropic virus, type III (HTLV-3) that initially cripples the body's immune system and eventually leaves the body open to an array of lethal opportunistic infections.

(b) So far, there is no known cure for AIDS and once a person is AIDS infected, the virus remains throughout the rest of his or her life.

(c) The AIDS virus has a three-to-seven year incubation period, making it one of the most difficult diseases to combat and trace

(d) An easily administered blood test can determine whether a person has been exposed to the AIDS virus.

(e) In 1979, when AIDS was first diagnosed in the United States, the number of newly diagnosed victims was doubling every six to nine months; today the number of people diagnosed with AIDS doubles each year.

(fl Nationally, between 500,000 and 2,000,000 Americans are estimated to have been exposed to the AIDS virus. Of those exposed, between 25,000 and 500,000 persons (5 percent-25 percent) may be expected to die of AIDS.

(1) Another 25,000 to 500,000 persons may be expected to develop AIDS Related Complex (ARC). The range of illnesses these individuals will suffer from may range from minor ailments to brain damage.

(2) The remaining majority of those exposed may never suffer its consequences, but may carry and transmit the disease unknowingly.

(3) Some experts estimate as many as 1,000 additional people are exposed daily.

(g) The department, in its report to the Legislature (March 1986) estimated conservatively that over 30,000 Californians shall have contracted AIDS by 1990, about 50 percent having succumbed. The disease is believed to be fatal within 18 months of diagnosis. To date, more than half the 16,000 people with AIDS in the United States have died.

(h) The AIDS virus is transmitted primarily through sexual contact, and also through the sharing of hypodermic needles, contaminated blood transfusions, and during pregnancy to the fetus.

(i) While the earliest spread of the AIDS virus was primarily among homosexuals, the virus is now found and spreading among heterosexuals as well.

(j) Additionally, drug abusers are highly susceptible to the AIDS virus since the drugs diminish the ability of the body's immune system to function. Intravenous drug abusers traditionally come into contact with the virus from sharing hypodermic needles.

(k) Persons sexually active in the heterosexual community are also at risk. Until a vaccine is developed, the AIDS virus will cross over from the high-risk groups to the lower risk groups. At this time, it is not known how fast the AIDS virus will penetrate other population groups, but it is not expected to be nearly as rapid. To date, partners of high-risk groups (bisexual men and intravenous drug users) are considered the main means of transmitting the AIDS virus to the heterosexual population. Other means include pregnant women who pass the infection on to the child and prostitutes who pass on the infection to their clients.

(l) Of the first 9,000 AIDS cases diagnosed in the United States, almost 1,000 were women. Fourteen percent of these women developed AIDS through sexual contact. Recent studies have demonstrated that the virus can be transmitted by women to their male sexual partners. Sexual contact with an infected partner may transmit the virus and fatally infect the partner.

(Added by Stats. 1995, Ch. 415, Sec. 7.)