N.J. Lawmakers Should Pass Law Allowing Needle-Exchange Programs, Editorial Says
The New Jersey Legislature should act "quickly" to pass a law allowing the launch of needle-exchange programs in two cities, as a court order blocking them only "stands in the way of a proven method to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS," a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial says (Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/24). The Mercer County, N.J., Superior Court Appellate Division, at the request of seven lawmakers, last week issued a temporary injunction to halt the launch of the programs just two weeks before they were set to begin. The cities planned to provide clean syringes for injection drug users in exchange for used ones, as well as referrals to health care providers, social services and addiction treatment programs if drug users asked for them (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/22). Assembly member Joe Pennacchio (R) believes such programs encourage drug use and will not reduce the incidence of needle-sharing, according to the editorial. However, "[t]he evidence is in, and it's clear-cut" that needle-exchange programs help curb the spread of HIV, the editorial says, citing data from NIH saying that needle exchanges can reduce the incidence of needle-sharing by up to 80%. In addition, both the American Medical Association and the American Pharmacists Association support needle-exchange programs, according to the Inquirer. The seven lawmakers are not "acting in the public's interest" but "exploiting for their own political goals the public's understandable reluctance to take a step that some might view as assisting drug abuse," the editorial says (Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.