New Jersey State Assembly and Senate to Vote on Sterile Syringe Access Legislation to Prevent the Spread of HIV/AIDS
Public Health, Medical and HIV Prevention Advocates Rejoice As Life-Saving Legislation Moves Forward
Trenton- New Jersey is yet another step closer to allowing a life-saving syringe access program. The General Assembly and Senate will both hold floor votes on Monday, December 11 on Assembly bills 1852 and 2839 and Senate bill 494 respectively. The Assembly voting session is scheduled at 1 p.m. and the Senate voting session is scheduled at 2 p.m.
A1852 would allow for the establishment of municipal syringe exchange programs and A2839 would allow for non-prescription pharmacy sales of up to ten syringes. Senate bill 494 includes the same provisions as A1852, as it is the companion bill in the Senate. On September 18, Senate bill 823, the companion to A2839, was tabled by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, but is expected to be reconsidered after January. Once passed by both houses, A1852 and S494 are expected to be signed by Gov. Jon Corzine, who expressed support for the legislation.
Public health, medical and HIV prevention advocates expressed joy at the announcement that the Senate and Assembly will vote on the bills next week.
"This is a historic moment for New Jersey. This is a historic moment in the battle against AIDS," said Roseanne Scotti, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey. "After so many years of debate and struggle it looks like the legislature will finally allow for this life-saving HIV prevention method. So many lives will be saved by passing this legislation. So much suffering will be prevented."
Supporters of sterile syringe access include the Medical Society of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Nurses Association, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey, the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children, the National Association of Social Workers-New Jersey Chapter, the Garden State Pharmacy Owners, the New Jersey Council of Chain Drug Stores, the New Jersey Pharmacists Association, the Independent Pharmacy Alliance, the Licensed Practical Nurse Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey Women and AIDS Network, the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, and the Dogwood Center.
Four months ago, Delaware passed syringe access legislation, making New Jersey the last state in the nation with no access whatsoever to sterile syringes to prevent the spread of diseases. 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.