Needles for New Jersey Injection Drug Users ‘Critical,’ Opinion Piece Says
It is "no coincidence" that in New Jersey -- which is one of two states in the country that prohibit needle-exchange programs and the sale of syringes without a prescription -- 46% of all HIV cases are transmitted through injection drug use, Robert Sharpe, a contributing writer to the Washington, D.C.-based not-for-profit group DKT Liberty Project, writes in a Newark Star-Ledger opinion piece. "[F]ar too many elected officials continue to put politics before public health" when it comes to drug policy on needle-exchange programs, Sharpe says, adding that such programs have been shown to reduce the spread of HIV without increasing drug use. In addition, studies conducted by the CDC and Johns Hopkins University have found that the sale of syringes in pharmacies would reduce by half HIV transmission among injection drugs users and protect the health of law enforcement officers, according to Sharpe. "Seen purely in terms of public health, syringe access for intravenous drug users is clearly an appropriate strategy," Sharpe says, concluding, "Regardless of whether it's an exchange program or an over-the-counter system, access to clean needles is critical" (Sharpe, Newark Star-Ledger, 11/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.