Health Briefs • March 27, 2009

Posted on 26 Mar 2009 at 2:17pm

Texas Senate passes needle exchange bill; state is alone in barring programs

AUSTIN — The Texas Senate has approved creating needle exchange programs that allow people to trade dirty needles for clean ones to help combat disease.

Approved 23-6 Thursday, May 19, the bill now goes to the House.

The bill’s future is uncertain because Gov. Rick Perry’s office says the Republican doesn’t support it, setting it up for a possible veto. Opponents say such programs encourage drug use.

Texas is the only state that doesn’t allow needle exchange programs.

Rep. Bob Deuell is the bill’s sponsor. The Greenville Republican and family doctor says the program would help reduce infections of HIV and hepatitis.

Critics fear Nebraska disease law could lead to ‘witch hunt’ against gays

LINCOLN, Neb. — Some people worry that Nebraska’s gay community is unfairly targeted by a bill meant to punish those who knowingly spread a deadly disease like AIDS.

The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee heard public testimony Friday afternoon, March 20 on a measure (LB625) that would make it illegal to intentionally or knowingly spread a deadly disease through sex.

It would also be illegal to sell or donate organs, blood, semen and other bodily fluids, or share hypodermic needles with the same purpose.

"I’m concerned that this will be a witch hunt against the gay community of Nebraska," Lucas Peterson of Lincoln said after the hearing. "It would give a prosecutor a right to go after someone who is perceived to have a life-threatening disease."

Peterson said he’s gay and doesn’t have HIV or AIDS. He told the panel that if a prosecutor had a vendetta against a group of people, the proposed law could be misused.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 27, 2009.

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