NEVADA GOVERNOR SIGNS SYRINGE DECRIMINALIZATION BILL ALLOWING FOR NON-PRESCRIPTION PHARMACY SALES & SYRINGE EXCHANGE PROGRAMS
Nevada joins 36 other states that have decriminalized syringes to allow for syringe exchange programs and non-prescription sales of sterile injection equipment to reduce transmission of HIV, viral hepatitis, and other bloodborne infections.
Senator David Parks, the bill author, remarked, “Back in 1996 when first elected, I was asked what bills I’d be pursuing for my first legislative session. My response was employment non-discrimination, HIV/AIDS state funding and decriminalization of hypodermic devices. Little did I know it would be my 9th session before decriminalization of hypodermic devices would come to fruition.”
Northern Nevada HOPES in Reno plans to start a syringe exchange program as soon as the law takes effect. Director Sharon Chamberlain says, “In addition to getting sterile syringe out to those who need them, our program will increase safe syringe disposal by individuals in the community. We will educate these users about the new and needed community disposal options, and strongly encourage them to take advantage of this resource.” Previously, no community initiatives provided safe disposal options.
The US Centers for Disease Control concluded that the incidence of HIV among injection drug users had decreased by 80% in the US over a 20- year period in large part due to syringe exchange programs. Most syringe exchange programs are part of a comprehensive health promotion effort that includes viral hepatitis and HIV counseling and testing, education on reducing sexual and drug use-related health risks, referral to drug treatment, and referral to other medical and social services.