Other HIV-Related Laws in Vermont

Vermont law permits community-based needle exchange programs.

Questions & Answers (Accurate as of November 3, 2011)

HIV Services for Survivors of Sexual Assault

What services does Vermont law require be provided to survivors of sexual assault crimes?

Vermont law requires that, upon request of the victim of a crime involving a sexual act25, the state must provide the victim with: (1) counseling regarding HIV; (2) testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases; (3) counseling by a medically trained professional on the accuracy of the testing, and the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases as a result of the crime; (4) antiviral medication prophylaxis treatment, crisis counseling, and support services; and (5) monthly follow-up testing for six months.

Syringe Access and Needle Exchange Programs

Do Vermont laws provide for access to clean needles for injection drug users to prevent HIV transmission?

Yes.  In light of the clear scientific evidence that programs offering access to clean needles: (1) decrease new HIV and hepatitis B and C infections; and (2) increase the number of injection drug users referred to substance abuse treatment, the Vermont Legislature in 1999 passed a law permitting community-based needle exchange programs.26

Under this law, an AIDS service organization, substance abuse provider, or licensed health care provider or facility may apply to the department of health to operate a needle exchange program.  Importantly, a person who possesses needles obtained through such a program is not in violation of the laws making it a crime to possess drug paraphernalia.

How does a person show that he or she lawfully obtained needles through an authorized exchange program?

Needle exchange programs provide identification cards for consumers who are enrolled in the program.  Regulations of the department of health mandate that the cards shall not identify the consumer by name, but rather use a confidential identifier system.27

Am I able to purchase a syringe over-the-counter at a pharmacy?

Yes. Vermont has no legal barrier to the purchase of a syringe at a pharmacy.

Footnotes

25See footnote 13 for definition of “sexual act”
26Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 18, §§ 4475, 4476 & 4478
27See Vermont Department of Health, Operating Guidelines for Organized Community-Based Needle Exchange Programs, July 2010