National News

Illinois Senate OKs Needle Bill in Effort to Curb AIDS

March 25, 2003

On Monday, the Illinois Senate passed (30-24) a measure allowing anyone 18 or older to buy hypodermic needles without a prescription in pharmacies. Sponsors hope the bill, which now moves to the House, will help curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Under the proposed law, a person could purchase 20 needles at a time in a pharmacy. The pharmacy would offer the buyer educational materials on drug treatment and safer syringe use and disposal measures. The Illinois Department of Public Health estimates its cost to provide the educational materials at less than $100,000 the first year. Illinois, California, Delaware, Massachusetts and New Jersey are the five states that require prescriptions to buy syringes.

"Some people use drugs no matter what," said Sen. Steve Rauschenberger (R-Elgin), a measure co-sponsor. "What has been proven in other states is, if there is access to legally possess sterile needles, there is a reduced amount of hepatitis and HIV/AIDS in that population." He also said the law would aid diabetics and their families, who would not need to find their prescriptions to buy needles in an emergency. Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), the bill's main sponsor, said he believes the change in Illinois law would reduce HIV transmissions in the state.

Opponents, however, argue the measure would not decrease the spread of HIV and would only put more dirty needles on the streets. "Needles will be disposed of inappropriately, in which case you're going to find them sticking through garbage bags and in garbage bins," said Sen. Dale Richter (R-Mattoon).

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Adapted from:
Chicago Tribune
03.25.03; Kate McCann

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.


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