Assembly Committee to Hold Hearings on Sterile Syringe Access Legislation to Prevent the Spread of HIV/AIDS

Press Release October 17, 2006
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Roseanne Scotti at (609) 610-8243

Trenton- New Jersey is yet another step closer to allowing a life-saving syringe access program. The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee will hold hearings on Thursday, October 19t at 10 a.m. on Assembly Bills 1852 and 2839. The hearings will take place in Committee Room 16 on the fourth floor of the State House Annex.

A1852 would allow for the establishment of municipal syringe exchange programs and A2839 would allow for non-prescription pharmacy sales of up to ten syringes. On September 18, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee passed S494, the companion bill to A1852 but tabled S823 the companion to A2839. Sen. Joseph Vitale, chair of the senate health committee has said he will bring S823 up for consideration in the committee in the near future.

Public health, medical and HIV prevention advocates expressed joy at the announcement of the hearings.

“It is incredibly exciting to see these life-saving bills moving forward in the legislature,” said Roseanne Scotti, Director of Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey. “I think we’ve reached a point where everyone concerned understands how important sterile syringe access is in the battle against AIDS. New Jersey deserves the best HIV prevention policies available. Finally, it looks like we’ll get them.”

Supporters of sterile syringe access include the Medical Society of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Nurses Association, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey, the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children, the National Association of Social Workers-New Jersey Chapter, the Garden State Pharmacy Owners, the New Jersey Council of Chain Drug Stores, the New Jersey Pharmacists Association, the Independent Pharmacy Alliance, the Licensed Practical Nurse Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey Women and AIDS Network, the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, and the Dogwood Center.

Two months ago, Delaware passed syringe access legislation, making New Jersey the last state in the nation with no access whatsoever to sterile syringes to prevent the spread of diseases. New Jersey has the fifth-highest number of adult HIV cases, the third-highest number of pediatric HIV cases and the highest proportion of HIV infections among women in the nation. Most striking, the state’s rate of HIV infection related to the sharing of contaminated syringes is twice the national average.

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