New Jersey governor James McGreevey, who announced last month that he engaged in an extramarital gay liaison and will step down from his post on November 15, will ask state lawmakers this week to amend New Jersey laws to permit needle-exchange programs to help prevent the spread of HIV among injection-drug users, The [Newark] Star-Ledger reports. "There is convincing evidence these programs are beneficial and do not cause an increase in intravenous drug use in the communities [where] they operate," state health commissioner Clifton Lacy told the newspaper. McGreevey says he hopes needle-exchange programs will be permitted in the state before he leaves office.
Lacy met this week with key Democrats, who control both legislative branches in the state, to discuss legislation allowing cities and other jurisdictions to establish needle exchanges. The state's law banning over-the-counter sales of syringes in pharmacies would remain intact, according to Lacy. The proposal faces opposition from Republican lawmakers who say needle-exchange programs do not stop drug users from sharing needles and serve only to encourage illegal drug use.