California Condom Bill Veto Has Costly Consequences, AHF Warns

Teen pregnancy and rampant STIs more expensive than providing students protection for pennies

LOS ANGELES (October 10, 2023) - AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) sharply criticized California Governor Gavin Newsom for vetoing SB 541 (Menjivar, D-Burbank), a bill that would require public schools to provide free condoms to students and prohibit retailers from refusing to sell condoms to youth. Newsom claimed the bill was too costly given the state's $30 billion deficit.

"When purchased in bulk, as the state the size of California certainly would do, condoms cost just pennies apiece," said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Vice President of AHF's Public Health Division. "Unplanned teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), on the other hand, disrupt lives and can cost teens, their families, and the state of California countless millions in health care, housing, and other services. Governor Newsom is being shortsighted with his ill-conceived veto."

A recent study found that Generation Z (people born 1997-2012) have the least knowledge about HIV compared to previous generations. Five percent say they are entirely unaware of HIV, higher than any previous generations, and only 34% of Generation Z consider themselves knowledgeable about HIV.

"Given the brutal landscape for reproductive rights in many places across the country, one might think that as a so-called champion of reproductive rights, Newsom would go out of his way to ensure that vulnerable young Californians have access to some basic tools to protect themselves from pregnancy as well as STIs," added Engeran-Cordova. "Newsom's veto is hypocritical and will have unintended humanitarian and fiscal consequences for California."

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world's largest HIV/AIDS healthcare organization, provides cutting-edge medicine and advocacy to more than 1.8 million individuals across 45 countries, including the U.S. and in Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region, and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, visit us online at, find us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, and subscribe to our AHFter Hours podcast.

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