Public Health and HIV Prevention Advocates Urge Passage of Life Saving Legislation <br>
Trenton - The New Jersey Assembly Appropriations Committee will hold hearings on Monday, December 4 at 1 p.m. on Assembly Bill 1852 which would allow up to six municipalities to establish syringe access programs to help prevent the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases. The bill contains $10 million for additional drug treatment services which must be approved by the committee. The hearing will be heard in the State House Annex, Committee Room 4 on the 4th floor.
"It is very appropriate that this hearing will come just days after we commemorate World AIDS Day," said Roseanne Scotti, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey. "Nothing the legislature could do would do more to fight HIV/AIDS than passing this bill." World AIDS Day is Friday, December 1.
Assembly Bill 1852 passed the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee on October 19. The Senate companion bill S494 has passed the health and appropriations committees and is waiting to be scheduled for a Senate floor vote.
New Jersey has the fifth-highest number of adult HIV cases, the third-highest number of pediatric HIV cases and the highest proportion of HIV infections among women in the nation. Most striking, the state's rate of HIV infection related to the sharing of contaminated syringes is twice the national average. More than 22,000 children have been orphaned by losing parents to HIV/AIDS. Despite these statistics, New Jersey is now the only state in the nation with no access whatsoever to sterile syringes either through syringe exchange programs or non-prescription sale of syringes in pharmacies.