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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

NEW JERSEY: N.J. Advances Needle Sales for IV Drug Addicts


Associated Press (11.21.11) - Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee on Monday voted 8-1, with two abstentions, to approve a measure that would allow pharmacies in New Jersey to sell syringes to intravenous drug users (IDUs). Such over-the-counter sales are banned in only New Jersey and Delaware.

The bill seeks to provide IDUs access to clean needles by allowing licensed pharmacies to sell up to 10 syringes or needles at once. Passed by the Senate in February, it now heads to the full Assembly.

Proponents argue providing clean needles will help curb the spread of HIV, hepatitis C, and other blood-borne diseases. "A tremendous amount of medical organizations support the over- the-counter sales of syringes," said Assembly member Reed Gusciora, a sponsor. "New Jersey needs to keep up with the rest of the country." Opponents, however, have concerns about the state legitimizing the use of illegal drugs.

Assembly member Nancy Munoz overcame reservations to support the bill, but she has requested that New Jersey investigate how other states address needle disposal issues.

Blogger and videographer Jay Lassiter testified before the committee about his past IV drug use. Calling for bipartisan support, Lassiter said both sides could be satisfied by helping the disadvantaged while inhibiting the spread of diseases and the resulting public health expenses.

In 2008, New Jersey became the last state to provide IV drug users legal access to clean needles through limited needle- exchange programs in six cities. Delaware ratified a similar law for a five-year pilot program in 2006 and renewed it in July; however, it only applies to Wilmington.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is not expected to take a formal position on the measure before it reaches his desk.


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Information in this article was accurate in November 23, 2011. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.