Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Needle-exchange bill bothers Perry

Jason Embry at the Austin American-Statesman has blogged about Governor Perry's opposition to a needle-exchange bill in the Legislature:

Legislation passed in the Senate today that would allow addicts to exchange dirty syringes for clean ones could run into a veto from Gov. Rick Perry if it continues to move through the Legislature.

“The governor is opposed to the needle-exchange proposal,” said Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle. “We need to focus on substance abuse prevention, not providing an incentive to continue illegal drug use.”

0n March 3rd, Emily Ramshaw a blogger for Belo's, provided more background on the bill Perry now publicly opposes:

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee yet again passed Sen. Bob Deuell's controversial needle exchange bill - one that made it through the full Senate last session but never got a vote in the House.
The measure, which Dr. Deuell didn't always support, would allow drug addicts to exchange dirty needles for clean ones - which is medically proven to reduce HIV and Hepatitis transmission, and actually, to help addicts find their way into rehab. Texas is the only state in the nation that doesn't allow it.
"There has been no evidence to show doing this increases drug use," Deuell said, noting that organizations that run needle exchanges find about 20 percent of their patrons enter rehab programs. The programs generally reduce HIV infections by 30 percent - and the Department of State Health Services projects such a program would prevent 100 new cases of HIV a year in Texas.
The measure "alleviates a lot of human suffering and also saves states money," Deuell said, because the state ends up footing the bill for a lot of the HIV treatment.

If the bill were to make it through the legislature, each individual county would be able to create a needle-exchange program. Such a program would probably be seen only in urban counties like Travis, Bexar, Harris, Fort Bend, Dallas and Tarrant -- I doubt we'd ever see a needle-exchange program in Trinity County, but who knows?

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