N.J. Senate ‘Tacitly Promoting’ HIV Spread by Not Passing Bill Allowing Needle-Exchange Programs, Editorial Says
The New Jersey Senate is "placing politics above public safety -- and tacitly promoting the spread" of HIV -- by not passing "desperately needed" legislation that would allow the launch of needle-exchange programs in the state, a New York Times editorial says. As a result, residents of New Jersey -- which has one of the nation's highest HIV prevalence rates -- will "pay a price in spreading infections, higher costs to care for AIDS patients and more unnecessarily lost lives," the editorial says (New York Times, 6/30). The state had invited nine cities to apply to implement such programs under an executive order signed by former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey (D) in October 2004. The order declared a "state of emergency" until Dec. 31, authorizes the state health department to administer needle-exchange programs in cities that meet specific requirements and allows up to three cities in the state to establish needle exchanges. However, the Mercer County, N.J., Superior Court Appellate Division, at the request of seven state lawmakers, last week issued a temporary injunction to halt the launch of two cities' programs two weeks before they were set to begin (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/22). McGreevey signed the executive order with the hope that the state Legislature would "act later" but instead it "has dragged its feet," the editorial says. Opponents who believe that such programs endorse drug use hold a view that is "based in ideology, not science," the Times says. Studies in the United States and other countries show that such programs curb the spread of HIV without encouraging people to inject drugs, according to the editorial (New York Times, 6/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.