On Tuesday a bill authorizing clinic-based needle-exchange programs to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C through injection-drug use was tentatively approved in the Texas senate. However, the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jon Lindsay, a Houston Republican, said house opposition would likely stop the measure from becoming law. "I'm not optimistic that this will pass this session totally," he said. "I'm optimistic that this may be the first step in getting public awareness. Something needs to be done."
The senate's final approval of the measure, SB 127, is also not guaranteed. Though there was no floor debate, nine senators voted against the bill's tentative approval. "I think it sends a very bad message to our kids," said Sen. Jane Nelson, a Republican. "I can't support it when I don't support drug use."
"While we all recognize the illegality of injection-drug use, we cannot ignore the fact that it does occur and it is a common way for deadly illnesses to spread throughout the community," said Lindsay. The state could save hundreds of thousands of dollars over time if some hepatitis and HIV cases were avoided, he said. The measure would allow drug users to remain anonymous and also link them with clinics, said Lindsay. (AP)