New Jersey Assembly Committee Approves Two Bills That Would Increase Access to Clean Needles, Syringes for Injection Drug Users
The New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Citizens Committee on Friday approved two bills that would increase access to clean needles and syringes for injection drug users in an attempt to reduce the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases in the state, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. One of the bills (A 2839) would allow pharmacies to sell up to 10 syringes at a time to an individual without a prescription. The other bill (A 1852) would establish a needle-exchange program in six cities in the state and provide $10 million to drug treatment programs (Livio, Newark Star-Ledger, 10/20). According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, 14% of new HIV/AIDS cases in the state in 2005 were attributed to injection drug use. Officials from Atlantic City and Camden have said they are interested in establishing programs. Needle-exchange programs in the U.S. are not federally funded and are opposed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/16). Raquel Jeffers, acting addiction services director for the state, said the $10 million drug treatment program would enhance current services -- including providing "motivational counseling" for up to 1,500 IDUs, opening four sites for outpatient illicit drug addiction treatment, licensing 76 long-term residential treatment beds over four years and maintaining "sober houses" to encourage illicit drug-free living for up to 60 people. The bills now go to the full state Assembly for consideration (Newark Star-Ledger, 10/20). The New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee earlier this month voted 8-6 to approve a compromise version of a bill (S 494) that would establish a needle-exchange program in six cities and provide $10 million to drug treatment programs in the state (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/16). The Senate has declined to vote on a bill that would permit the sale of syringes without a prescription (Newark Star-Ledger, 10/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.