Time to Decriminalize Syringes and Stop HIV, Hepatitis and Law Enforcement Needlesticks in NC
WHAT WOULD SYRINGE DECRIMINALIZATION DO?
Syringe decriminalization would allow any North Carolinian, whether one of NC’s 643,000 diabetics or 50,000 injection drug users (IDUs), the legal right to purchase or carry syringes without a prescription. In turn this would allow them to inform law enforcement that they are carrying them without legal consequence if they are not carrying a prescription for a syringe. Currently people do not inform officers if they are carrying a syringe if they do not have a prescription due to fear of arrest and therefore one in three members of law enforcement get a needlestick and 28% get multiple needlesticks during their career, exposing them to HIV and hepatitis C. Many law enforcement officers cannot afford needlestick resistant gloves, which can cost up to $200 a pair. At most departments it is the officer’s responsibility to purchase these, which becomes costly for the officer, especially when each pair should be destroyed if they have a blood exposure. During law enforcement department budget cuts these items often are the first to go. A cost effective way to aid this situation is to decriminalize syringes. When syringes are decriminalized, law enforcement needlesticks decrease by 66%.
WHO SUPPORTS SYRINGE DECRIMINALIZATION?
*American Medical Association *American Nurses Association *Association of Nurses in AIDS Care *American Public Health Association *American Pharmaceutical Association *National Science Foundation *American Academy of Pediatrics *NC Hepatitis Community Voice *Miss North Carolina International *Centers for Disease Control and Prevention *North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition *National Association of Social Workers
*National Black Caucus of State Legislators *National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors *North Carolina AIDS Action Network *National Black Police Association *Old North State Medical Society *American Bar Association *AIDS United *NAACP *American Nurses Association*Association of Nurses in AIDS Care *Drug Policy Alliance
*Institute of Medicine *National Medical Association
WHY DOES NC NEED TO DECRIMINALIZE SYRINGES?
1.) It would decrease needle stick injuries to police by 66% (1 in 3 officers currently get needlesticks in NC) and would promote public health and safety.
2.) Currently there are around 50,000 injection injection drug users in North Carolina who do not have access to a stable supply of clean needles. They thus share syringes and this has contributed to over 35,000 cumulative HIV & 700,000 hepatitis infections.
3.) The estimated lifetime medical costs for someone living with HIV is $618,000 and up to $120,000 for a person living with Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C, which is the leading cause of NC liver transplants, costs taxpayers around $400,000 per transplant and up to $100,000 in anti-liver rejection medications and extends the liver waitlist.
4.) Syringe decriminalization leads to: a decrease HIV & Hepatitis incidence, no increase in crime or drug abuse.
*It is unacceptable to continue to allow law enforcement to get needlesticks when there is an effective way to reduce them by 66%.
*This is a public health issue where science strongly supports policy. HIV and hepatitis C infections continue to rise at alarming rates in the state of NC. Syringe decriminalization would curb the incidence of HIV and Hepatitis and the soaring costs caused by new disease infections.
*This cost saving public health program does not cost the people of NC a cent (but will save us millions of dollars in HIV and hepatitis infections avoided).
Learn More: Go to http://www.nchrc.net
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