New York Times Examines Efforts To Make Clean Needles Available in New Jersey
The New York Times on Sunday examined efforts to make clean syringes available legally in New Jersey to curb the spread of HIV and other bloodborne diseases. Such efforts have been "blocked repeatedly over the years," according to the Times (Chen, New York Times, 6/4). New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) in January said that establishing a needle-exchange program in the state is a priority for his administration and that he would consider using his executive power as governor to create a program if the Legislature does not act. Former Gov. James McGreevey (D) -- who resigned in November 2004 -- in October 2004 signed an executive order allowing up to three cities in the state to establish needle-exchange programs. The order declared a "state of emergency" until Dec. 31, 2005, and authorized the Department of Health and Senior Services to administer needle-exchange programs in cities that met specific requirements; however, no needles were distributed under McGreevey's order (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/30). Opponents of needle-exchange programs say such programs condone illegal drug use, and they would prefer to establish educational campaigns and treatment programs to combat drug use. "Needle exchange is a form of keeping people junkies the rest of their lives," state Sen. Ronald Rice (D) said. Some advocates of needle-exchange programs say they are supported by "just about every major scientific or medical organization," such as NIH, the American Medical Association, CDC and the New Jersey Hospital Association, the Times reports. Delaware is the only other state in the country that prohibits needle exchange programs and nonprescription sale of syringes (New York Times, 6/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.