Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich on Friday signed into law a bill that allows anyone age 18 and older in the state to buy hypodermic needles without a prescription at any pharmacy in the state, the Chicago Tribune reports. The new law allows adults to buy up to 20 needles at a time and requires pharmacies to offer the buyers educational materials on drug treatment and safe needle disposal. Supporters of the law say it will help reduce HIV infection rates among the state's intravenous-drug users by helping to cut down on needle sharing.
State representative Sara Feigenholtz, a sponsor of the bill, also said the measure will cut down on mother-to-child HIV transmissions in the state because 95% of all HIV-positive infants in Illinois are born to a parent infected with HIV from dirty needles. "You can recover from drug addiction, but you cannot recover from AIDS," she told the Tribune. "We want to encourage drug users to get into recovery, but until they're ready, we want to make sure they're not dying of AIDS." Only four states currently require prescriptions to buy needles--California, Delaware, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.