New Jersey’s ‘Archaic’ Laws Preventing Needle-Exchange Programs ‘Pathetic, Tragic,’ Opinion Piece Says
It is "pathetic and tragic" that after a decade of legislative effort New Jersey "still prohibits needle-exchange programs," Camden, N.J., needle-exchange proponent Frank Fulbrook writes in a Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece (Fulbrook, Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/3). Sharing contaminated needles to inject drugs is the leading cause of both HIV and hepatitis C infections in New Jersey. Although injection drug use has become the primary source of new HIV/AIDS cases in the state, New Jersey is one of only a few remaining states that requires a prescription to purchase needles (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/13). Fulbrook says that although New Jersey is "advanced in many ways," the state's "archaic" syringe laws "present a serious obstacle to the prevention of bloodborne diseases and threaten public health and safety, while costing the state millions of dollars annually in health care." The "best approach" in New Jersey would be to establish needle-exchange programs and legalize non-prescription sales of syringes at pharmacies, Fulbrook says. Camden and Atlantic City, N.J., are considering implementing needle-exchange programs, but Gov. James McGreevey (D) "opposes any plan that would not be hospital-based," according to Fulbrook. "McGreevey has provided no leadership for syringe-law reform," Fulbrook says, adding that the Legislature "also has failed to do the right thing on this vital health issue." He concludes, "It would be nice if leadership on this issue had come from the top down, but it hasn't. So it must come from the local level" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.