New Jersey Needs Needle-Exchange Law To Allow Programs To Reduce HIV Transmission Among Injection Drug Users, Editorial Says
New Jersey cities "hardest hit" by HIV/AIDS should be allowed "to decide for themselves whether to hand out free clean needles" to injection drug users to prevent the spread of the virus, a Newark Star-Ledger editorial says (Newark Star-Ledger, 8/20). However, a three-judge Appellate Division panel last week unanimously ruled that a 2004 Atlantic City, N.J., ordinance approving a needle-exchange program violates state drug laws. The decision upholds a September 2004 ruling by New Jersey Superior Court Judge Valerie Armstrong, who said the city does not have the authority to create a needle-exchange program (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/17). The panel said the state Legislature is the only body that can change the law, but legislators "keep blocking attempts to pass needle-exchange legislation," according to the editorial. "Some lawmakers say the state should be trying to get people off drugs, not handing them their needles," but New Jersey "must do both" because good needle exchanges can break a "deadly chain of transmission," the editorial says, concluding, "It is time lawmakers gave New Jersey the tools to fight AIDS. A needle-exchange law is one of them" (Newark Star-Ledger, 8/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.