Letters from individuals who support House Bill 117, including a mother, several concerned Republicans and Christians, a family member who lost a loved one to HIV/AIDS, and an United States Army Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom continue to urge Public Health Chair Kolkhorst to give this bill a hearing if legislators are serious about saving money and saving lives. Their letters reiterate that House Bill 117 would save lives without encouraging drug use, would save the individual taxpayer the expense of treating further disease by halting its spread, would protect the community by decreasing the risk of children and adults finding improperly discarded drug paraphernalia in parks and public spaces as they do currently, and promotes an evidence-based disease prevention model. One Republican and Christian supporter states:
"I have seen the costs of inflicted on taxpayers from the spread of diseases which can be prevented through these programs. State funds are so critical and changes must be made for Texas to remain a strong state. This bill requires none of those decreasing funds."
A mother writes:
"I don't wish for my son to carry the burden of the cost to treat individuals infected by carrying a needle carrying an explosive disease that can then be spread to other users and non-users when a simple and effective program such as syringe exchange could be operating in our state. These programs are designed to protect law enforcement, medical professionals and the common man."
A letter from The CHOW Project (click on photo at right to join The CHOW Project on facebook) in Hawai'i, a statewide syringe exchange program in existence for over twenty years, asks Texas to join them in "helping stop the spread of blood-borne pathogens and making our communities safer for everyone." Research has shown that, for every year that it has been in operation, the Hawai'i program is not only cost-effective but has decreased the transmission of infectious disease, lowered the chance of needle stick injuries in public spaces by ensuring proper disposal of contaminated syringes, and connected drug users with treatment and other services. Texas could realize these same benefits by passing HB 117 and allowing syringe exchange to operate in jurisdictions that opt to authorize programs, and all without requiring the use of state funds.
Write to Chair Kolkhorst urging her to schedule a Public Health Committee hearing for House Bill 117! Write to your Texas House Representative urging them to help save lives, reduce disease and drug use, and save taxpayer money by supporting syringe exchange as disease prevention.