Texas Senator Lindsay Calls for Drug Needle Exchange Program
March 6, 2003
A Houston lawmaker wants to help prevent the spread of AIDS, hepatitis C and other diseases in Texas by establishing local hypodermic needle exchange programs.Adapted from:
Sen. Jon Lindsay (R-Houston), said locally run needle exchange programs could help the state save money that it might have to spend later on treating people with those diseases. "It's a cheap, preventative health care measure for very serious diseases," Lindsay said.
Under Senate Bill 438, local government clinics would exchange used hypodermic needles and syringes for the same number of clean hypodermic needles and syringes. The exchanges would be anonymous, and the programs would include initiatives on disease prevention and substance abuse treatment services.
Carolyn Parker, executive director and lobbyist for the Texas AIDS Network, said the legislation is important to help prevent the spread of disease. Disease prevention programs would not only provide clean needles and syringes, but also open a dialogue for some substance abusers to get medical care, Parker said. "It should never be considered as a kind of program to reduce the use of drugs, but to reduce the harm of drugs," Parker said. "It helps reduce the potential for spreading disease."
Opponents of the legislation have argued that providing needles would encourage drug use, not curb the spread of disease. Cathie Adams, president of Dallas-based Texas Eagle Forum, a socially conservative organization, said there are economic and moral problems the government faces in providing a needle exchange program. "The role of the government is to create an environment where law-abiding citizens are safe and healthy, certainly not putting them in a position where they have to bankroll illegal behavior," Adams said.
03.04.03; Melissa Drosjack