Georgia legislature passes needle exchange bill to combat HIV

Add this share

Gov. Brian Kemp will now decide the fate of a Republican-sponsored bill that creates a needle exchange program that could help reduce HIV rates in Georgia.

The Georgia Senate passed House Bill 217 by a vote of 45 to 4 on Monday.

HB 217 would create a syringe services program to allow people who inject drugs to exchange used needles for clean ones. Programs like these reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, a Republican from Marietta, was the Senate sponsor of the bill.

“Although getting control of this epidemic is going to need more than one solution, this is a fiscally conservative step towards improving the public health of our state,” Kirkpatrick said Monday as she introduced the bill on the Senate floor.

Kirkpatrick (top photo) said the program would include substance abuse and harm reduction counseling, screening for HIV, hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted diseases, and referral to treatment for people with substance abuse disorders.

“These programs are evidence-based and have shown not only reductions in new HIV and hepatitis C cases, but also individuals in these programs are five times more likely to enter into treatment programs, according to the CDC,” she said.

Kirkpatrick added that by reducing the number of dirty needles in circulation, the program has the “side benefit” of helping protect law enforcement and first responders from getting accidentally infected.

Four lawmakers voted against the bill on Monday – Republican Sens. Brandon Beachfrom Alpharetta, Steve Gooch from Dahlonega, William Ligon from Brunswick and Blake Tillery from Vidalia. Ligon voted for the same version of the bill in a Senate Health & Human Services committee meeting on March 18.

Rep. Houston Gaines, a Republican from Athens, was the House sponsor of the bill.

HB 217 is the first HIV bill of the 2019 session to pass both chambers of the legislature. Kemp can either sign the legislation into law, veto it, or leave it unsigned and it becomes law.

THE LATEST

10 people you never, ever want to date again

You know them. Maybe you loved them. Just say no to the these 10 LGBTQ people who we never, ever want to date again.   Bitter &...

The best LGBTQ things to do in Atlanta this weekend

Shows, sports and other queer shenanigans top a busy list of Atlanta events for LGBTQ and allied weekenders. Keep scrolling and click on each event...

Gender nonconforming person beaten, puppy stolen in Midtown

An armed robber pistol-whipped a 53-year-old gender nonconforming person in his Midtown home last month then stole the victim's puppy. The suspect is still...

Q ATLus catches Atlanta dreaming of Pride Weekend

Every last one of us will probably take a different route to celebrating Pride 2021, and that’s OK. With love in their hearts and safety...

Atlanta at center of jump in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes

Two-thirds of the 28 anti-LGBTQ hate crimes reported in Georgia by the FBI in 2020 occurred in metro Atlanta. The number of overall hate crimes...
17,446FansLike
7,001FollowersFollow
7,682FollowersFollow

PHOTO GALLERIES