Delaware Lawmakers to Reconsider Legislation Authorizing Pilot Needle-Exchange Program
Delaware lawmakers are planning to reconsider legislation that would authorize a pilot needle-exchange program in the city of Wilmington, the AP/Wilmington News Journal reports (Chase, AP/Wilmington News Journal, 11/29). The Delaware Senate in June approved 20-1 a bill (SB 209) that would have allowed a pilot needle-exchange program in Wilmington (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/14). However, the bill died in the House (AP/Wilmington News Journal, 11/29). The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Margaret Rose Henry (D), would have established a five-year pilot program in which state health workers would travel by van to several locations throughout the city distributing clean hypodermic needles to injection drug users. The measure aimed to reduce HIV transmission through needle sharing. Although Wilmington Mayor James Baker (D) and the City Council supported the measure, Police Chief Michael Szczerba opposed the bill. He said that a needle-exchange program would weaken drug laws and send contradictory and harmful messages to children. Baker said he supports a needle-exchange program because it will help the city reach its Healthy Wilmington 2010 goal of reducing HIV prevalence by 20% over the next six years (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/14). Henry said she plans to reintroduce the legislation once the General Assembly reconvenes in January and hopes to have a "more favorable outcome" in the House. House Majority Leader Wayne Smith (R) in June told Henry that the proposal "deserved merit" but that he did not want to "rush" the legislation, according to Henry. Smith said he has lingering concerns about needle-exchange programs, adding, "I would have to be convinced that the evidence is overwhelming that this is a tremendous benefit" (AP/Wilmington News Journal, 11/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.