Momentum Building for Legislation to Increase Access to Sterile Syringes to Prevent the Spread of HIV, Hepatitis C
New Jersey Assembly Health Committee Hearings Scheduled for Thursday to Consider Pharmacy Sales and Municipal Syringe Exchange Programs
Trenton--Momentum is building for passage of life-saving legislation in New Jersey to allow for increased access to sterile syringes to reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis C, and other blood-borne diseases. New Jersey is one of only two states that allow no access whatsoever to clean needles to prevent the spread of disease. New Jersey's position was further marginalized yesterday when California's Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill allowing the sale of up to ten syringes in pharmacies without a prescription. New Jersey is now one of only four states that require a prescription to purchase a syringe in a pharmacy.
Roseanne Scotti, Director of Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey, expressed optimism about the legislation. "For too long New Jersey has lagged behind in implementing these proven HIV prevention strategies," said Scotti, "The time has come to address this issue and start making real progress in the battle against AIDS." New Jersey has the 5th highest number of adult HIV cases, the 3rd highest number of pediatric HIV cases, the highest proportion of women infected with HIV in the nation, and a rate of HIV infection related to sharing of dirty needles that is twice the national average.
New Jersey's position on syringe access was further marginalized yesterday when California's Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill allowing or the sale of up to ten syringes in pharmacies without a prescription. New Jersey is now one of only four states that require a prescription to purchase a syringe in a pharmacy.
Supporters in New Jersey were heartened by the news from California, as they prepared for hearings this Thursday in the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. Two bills, A3256 and A3257 which would allow for pharmacy sales of up to ten syringes without a prescription, and allow municipalities to establish syringe exchange programs, will have their first hearings in the committee.