May 6, 2011
A measure that would remove the "sunset" provision from the state's needle-exchange program was released Wednesday by the House Health and Human Development Committee. Studies show that NEPs help prevent the spread of blood-borne infections by allowing injection drug users to swap dirty syringes for sterile ones.
Wilmington's NEP offers testing for HIV, hepatitis B, and pregnancy, in addition to its syringe and drug treatment services. Basha Silverman, director of prevention programs for Brandywine Counseling, oversees the NEP; she said the original goal was to move five clients per year into treatment. In just over four years, nearly 200 people have sought help, she said. The NEP currently serves 1,025 clients, she noted.
"Our [NEP] saves hundreds of lives and saves the state millions in potential health care costs," Silverman said.
SB 13 is sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East). Henry said she would like to see other areas of the state adopt an NEP, but some municipalities do not want one.