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override governor’s needle-sale veto

override governor’s needle-sale veto

Lawmakers in the Massachusetts legislature this week voted to override Gov. Mitt Romney's veto of a bill that would have allowed over-the-counter sales of hypodermic needles. Romney and other Republicans in the state had claimed making clean needles available would encourage illegal drug use, but lawmakers, backed by testimony from health and law enforcement officials, overturned Romney's veto, saying the measure was needed to help lower HIV and hepatitis infection rates among injection-drug users.

Nearly 40% of all HIV cases in Massachusetts are related to needle sharing, either through direct transmissions by sharing dirty needles or by infected injection-drug users passing the virus to their sex partners, according to state health department officials. Needle sharing also is the primary mode of hepatitis C transmissions in the state.

"As of this date Massachusetts joins 47 other states that have committed to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C," Rebecca Haag, executive director of AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, said in a press statement. "The legislature's override of the governor's veto will save lives, reduce new infections, and save the commonwealth millions of dollars in health care costs over the next several years. This summer marks the 25th year since AIDS was first identified, and we salute the legislature's action in making available the single most effective prevention tool we have today in the fight against HIV and hepatitis C." (The Advocate)

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