Natasha Mehu, MACo Policy Analyst, testified to the House Health and Government Operations Committee, in support with amendments of HB 973, Local AIDS Prevention Sterile Needle and Syringe Exchange Program. This bill authorizes a sterile needle and syringe exchange program to operate in each jurisdiction. It also supports MACo’s initiative to give local governments tools to address substance abuse and reduce opioid-related deaths.
The written testimony states:
HB 973 authorizes a sterile needle and syringe exchange programs to operate in each jurisdiction. These programs help reduce the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. Additionally, the programs can be used as a platform to provide overdose prevention education and distribute overdose prevention medication; to refer individuals who use drugs to substance use disorder treatment; and to engage individuals in public health-related services. Data collected from the programs can enhance a jurisdiction’s understanding of substance-use related trends and patterns. Under the current law, only Prince George’s County is authorized to operate the program. Baltimore City is also authorized to operate a program under a separate statute.
For more on MACo’s 2015 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.