Texas Senate Tentatively Approves Bill Legalizing Needle-Exchange Programs To Prevent Spread of HIV, Other Diseases
The Texas Senate on Tuesday voted 17-9 to give preliminary approval to a bill (SB 127) that would legalize needle-exchange programs in the state, the Houston Chronicle reports (Robison, Houston Chronicle, 4/26). The measure would allow injection drug users to exchange dirty needles for clean ones at health clinics in the state without having to give their names. The program also would allow clinics to offer counseling and suggest services for drug users seeking help, according to state Sen. Jon Lindsay (R), who sponsored the measure (Gott, AP/Daily Sentinel, 4/26). Current Texas law allows people to obtain clean needles only with a doctor's prescription, but people who inject illegal drugs are not allowed to obtain a prescription for the needles. However, some groups around the state have started their own needle-exchange programs despite the law (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/8). Lindsay on Tuesday could not gain enough support for the measure to allow a final vote on the bill. Even if the state Senate gives final approval to the measure, it is expected to fail in the state House, according to Lindsay. However, Lindsay said, "I'm optimistic this may be the first step in increasing public awareness in getting something done" (Houston Chronicle, 4/26). State Rep. Dianne Delisi (R), chair of the state House Public Health Committee, has promised to prevent the bill from reaching the House floor (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.