Mass. Bill Allowing Needle Sales ‘Inferior Alternative’ to Needle Exchange, But Should Be Approved, Editorial Says
Although a bill (SB 1312) in the Massachusetts Legislature that would authorize the nonprescription sales of hypodermic needles to prevent the spread of HIV and other bloodborne diseases among injection drug users is an "inferior alternative to a needle-exchange program," the bill "is the best available weapon in the war against AIDS" until "the public is properly educated and opponents are no longer able to demonize needle exchange," a Springfield Republican editorial says. Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials, law enforcement officials and prosecutors support the measure, according to the editorial. However, Gov. Mitt Romney (R) opposes the bill because he says it would promote illegal drug use, according to his spokesperson, the editorial says. Romney "is ignoring the advice of the experts as well as statistics that show drug use does not increase with the decriminalization of needles," according the Republican. Needle-exchange programs provide IDUs "direct contact" with a counselor, and the Springfield City Council should approve such a program, the editorial says. "In the meantime, the governor should choose his battles more carefully," the editorial says, concluding, "This isn't about the war on drugs. It's about the war on AIDS" (Springfield Republican, 5/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.