Press Release  | 01/17/2012

Governor Chris Christie Signs Sterile Syringe Access Legislation to Prevent the Spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C

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Public Health and HIV Prevention Advocates Cheer Enactment of Life-Saving Legislation

Trenton—Today Governor Chris Christie signed life-saving legislation (S958/A1088) to allow for the sale of limited numbers of syringes in pharmacies without a prescription.  Public health advocates say the legislation will reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases. It will also benefit diabetics and others who must use injectable medications by making it easier for them to access syringes.  New Jersey was one of only two states (the other is Delaware) that completely ban over-the-counter sales of syringes.

Advocates cheered the final enactment of the bill and thanked Governor Christie for signing the legislation.  "We are incredibly grateful to Governor Christie for signing this critically important legislation," said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "And we are grateful to all the legislators who kept fighting for it for so many years.  This legislation is a triumph for good public health policy and it will save lives."  Advocates in New Jersey worked to pass the legislation for almost twenty years.

Every scientific, medical, and professional body to study the issue has concluded that access to sterile syringes reduces the spread of blood-borne diseases and does not increase drug use.  Although syringe access programs have existed in New Jersey since 2006, the law providing for their establishment capped the number of permissible locations at six and all of the programs have limited hours due to lack of  funding.

The bill was sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), Assemblywoman Joan Voss (D-Bergen), Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex), Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (D-Bergen and Hudson) and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-Essex and Passaic) and in the Senate by Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), Senator Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex) and Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Middlesex).

The legislation is supported by public health and advocacy organizations including: the American Diabetes Association, the Diabetes Foundation, Inc., the Garden State Association of Diabetes Educators, the New Jersey State Nurses Association, the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians, the Garden State Pharmacy Owners, the New Jersey Pharmacists Association, the New Jersey Council of Chain Drug Stores, the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Homeside Hospice, the Hepatitis C Association, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, the New Jersey Hospital Association, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, New Jersey Women and AIDS Network, the National Association of Social Workers-NJ Chapter, South Jersey AIDS Alliance, Camden Area Health Education Center and Well-of-Hope Drop-In Center.

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

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