North Carolina lawmakers consider needle-exchange bill
A bill introduced in the North Carolina house would create a pilot program to establish and evaluate needle-exchange programs to help stop the spread of HIV and hepatitis among injection-drug users who share needles, the Greensboro News and Record reports. The bill, introduced by Democrat Thomas Wright, would establish needle exchanges in three undetermined counties, offer $550,000 in state funds to set up and run the programs, and include oversight to evaluate the effectiveness of the exchanges. Supporters of the bill say it will save lives by preventing blood-borne disease transmissions and ultimately reduce state health spending by keeping low-income people who rely on state-funded health programs from developing serious illnesses and seeking treatment for them. Opponents of the measure, including many Republican lawmakers, say the bill would encourage illegal drug use.