Massachusetts: Officials Eye State Dirty Needle Deal
February 14, 2006
While local needle exchange programs (NEPs) throughout the state are serving more clients every year, a measure is being considered in the Massachusetts Senate that would legalize non-prescription sales of hypodermic needles in pharmacies.
In 2004, 1,550 people visited vans operated by the Boston NEP AHOPE, including people from outlying areas, said Tom Lyons, spokesperson for the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC). Cambridge Cares About AIDS enrolls 100 clients monthly at its NEP site in Central Square, and it had 1,100 clients in fiscal year 2005, said Monique Tula, director of harm reduction services. Provincetown Needle Exchange enrolled 89 people in 2005 and had more than 500 visits, said Rick Shaw, PNE program coordinator.
If approved, the non-prescription syringe sales bill would make the departments of Environmental Health and Public Health responsible for a needle disposal system. Boston health officials are considering free-standing, secure metal receptacles for syringe disposal, said John Auerbach, BPHC executive director.
"The arguments are overwhelmingly in favor of doing this," said state Sen. Robert O'Leary (D-Barnstable), who believes senate support for the measure could make it veto-proof. The same bill passed 115-37 in the House in November.
02.10.06; Laura Crimaldi
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.