Press Release  | 01/18/2011

New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee to Vote on Sterile Syringe Access Legislation to Prevent the Spread of HIV/AIDS

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Committee Scheduled for Thursday, January 20, 1 p.m.; Bill Would Allow Over-the-Counter Sale of Limited Numbers of Syringes in Pharmacies

Public Health, and HIV Prevention Advocates Urge Passage of Life-Saving Legislation

Trenton—On Thursday, January 20, the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee will consider life-saving legislation to allow for the sale of limited numbers of syringes in pharmacies without a prescription. The hearing will be held at 1 p.m. in Committee Room 1 on the first floor of the statehouse annex. New Jersey is one of only two states (the other state is Delaware) that completely ban over-the-counter sale of syringes.

Senate Bill 958 is sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), Senator Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex) and Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Middlesex). The legislation would also benefit diabetics and others who must use injectable medications by making it easier for them to access syringes.

This reasonable and common-sense legislation was passed by the New Jersey Assembly twice in the past, most recently in 2006. But each time the bill failed to pass out of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and therefore never got a vote by the full Senate. If the bill were to pass the Senate committee and full Senate, it would need to be considered again by the Assembly. The Assembly companion bill is A1088 and is sponsored by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) and Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen).

Advocates are urging committee members to vote yes on this important bill. "It is long past time that New Jersey joined the overwhelming majority of states that allow for over-the-counter sales of syringes," said Roseanne Scotti, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey. "Allowing for over-the-counter sale of syringes will save New Jersey money by allowing those at risk for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C to use their own money to protect their own health. Year after year we have watched as other states changed their laws until New Jersey is one of only two states clinging to this antiquated and harmful prohibition." In the last several years, states including Pennsylvania, Illinois and Massachusetts have passed laws allowing for sale of syringes without a prescription.

Senate Bill 958 is supported by a long list of public health and advocacy organizations including: the American Diabetes Association, the New Jersey State Nurses Association, the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians, the Garden State Pharmacy Owners, the New Jersey Pharmacists Association, New Jersey Council of Chain Drug Stores, the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Homeside Hospice, Hepatitis C Association, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, the New Jersey Hospital Association, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, South Jersey AIDS Alliance, and Well-of-Hope Drop-In Center.

  • To date, more than 73,800 HIV/AIDS cases have been reported in New Jersey and nearly 39,000 people have died
  • Minorities account for 76% of adult/adolescent HIV/AIDS cases and 78% of all persons living with HIV/AIDS
  • In New Jersey, 41% of all HIV/AIDS cases have been caused by the sharing of contaminated syringes

Tony Newman at 646-335-5384 or Roseanne Scotti at 609-610-8243

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