May 17, 2004
In addition to discussing the health benefits of a needle-exchange program, conference participants talked about the legal obstacles to establishing a program in San Antonio, the Express-News reports. According to Debra Seamans, assistant director of the Texas Department of Health's Bureau of HIV and STD Prevention, "The law in Texas clearly says it's illegal." The delivery of drug paraphernalia, including syringes, for illegal drug use is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas, according to the Express-News. However, Seamans said that there is "a lot of public health information out there showing the benefits" of needle exchanges. Jill Rips, associate director of the San Antonio AIDS Foundation, said that needle-exchange programs have been established with private funds in Austin, Texas, and Dallas and that law enforcement in those cities have "look[ed] the other way," according to the Express-News. Bexar County Sheriff Ralph Lopez, who spoke at the conference, said he favors community-based needle exchanges. He added that the sheriff's department has "discretion" to allow "credentialed organizations" to run such programs, the Express-News reports (Foy, San Antonio Express-News, 5/13).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2004 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.