Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Texas Infectious Diseases Society urges legislators to pass HB 117 without delay

In a letter to Representatives McClendon (House Bill 117 Author) and Kolkhorst (Public Health Committee Chair) the President of the Texas Infectious Diseases Society writes on behalf of over 270 infectious disease physicians and scientists in support of HB 117, which would allow local entities to operate voluntary needle exchange programs. Dr. Septimus urges legislators to 'move this important legislation forward and enact it this session without delay.'

An excerpt from the letter (see full letter below):

" Based on numerous studies and extensive research evidence, the science is clear: needle exchange programs are highly cost-effective, lifesaving, and do not promote drug use. In addition to the reduced risks for disease, sterile syringe access programs facilitate greater access to drug treatment by providing a crucial entry point into medical care, detox and rehabilitation, and mental health treatment. Nearly 200 syringe exchange programs successfully operate in 38 states, Puerto Rico, Washington DC, and Indian Lands. Allowing local jurisdictions in Texas the option to support these programs will prevent new HIV, HBV and HCV infections, improve public health and save lives."

The letter also reminds legislators that Texas is currently wasting taxpayer dollars treating blood borne infections that it could be preventing through the simple measure of access to sterile syringes.

When legislators and fellow Texans are ready to listen to science and reason, and support effective disease prevention programs, savings will follow.

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