Almost Half of New Jersey HIV Cases Related to Injection Drug Use, Report Says
Approximately 46% of reported HIV cases in New Jersey are related to injection drug use, according to a report released on Tuesday by the New Jersey Drug Policy Project-Drug Policy Alliance, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Sharing contaminated needles to inject drugs is the leading cause of both HIV and hepatitis C infections in New Jersey, according to the report. New Jersey ranks fifth in HIV prevalence in the United States, and the state has the third-highest pediatric AIDS prevalence and the highest percentage of HIV-positive women in the country, the report says. Approximately 25% of HIV infections nationwide are related to injection drug use, according to the Inquirer. The report's findings could improve prospects for a bill (A 3645) pending in the state Assembly, according to officials at Dooley House, a transitional home for children who are drug-addicted or HIV-positive. The legislation, which is sponsored by Assembly member Reed Gusciora (D), would allow pharmacies to sell syringes without a prescription and would allow municipalities and public health officials to include needle-exchange programs in their HIV/AIDS prevention programs. The Camden, Jersey City and Newark City Councils have all passed resolutions supporting the bill, according to the Inquirer (Ott, Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/19). New Jersey has seen a major shift in support of legalized syringe sales and needle-exchange programs since Gov. James McGreevey (D) took office. Former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) was strongly opposed to needle-exchange programs, and some members of groups that attempted to run such programs during her administration were arrested (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/17). Only five states -- California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania -- require a prescription to buy needles (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.