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
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