This Victory Will Literally Save Lives
It would be unconscionable to block a program that successfully prevented HIV transmission, Hepatitis C transmission, and fatal opioid overdoses.
Today the Supreme Judicial Court made it absolutely clear that the key such prevention strategy among people who inject drugs – providing free access to clean needles – is legal in every community in Massachusetts. This decision will mean the difference between life and death for people struggling with addiction.
Programs like that run by our client, AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod (ASGCC) – which provide access to free needles and to the overdose-reversal drug Narcan – literally save lives. But the town of Barnstable tried to shut down ASGCC’s program.
Despite overwhelming evidence that needle distribution is a harm reduction strategy that works, the debate has raged on.
Today, the SJC agreed with GLAD and our co-counsel at AIDS Action: the debate is over. Clean needle access programs like ASGCC’s are legal without restriction under state law.
The HIV, Hepatitis C and opioid epidemics are public health emergencies that we have the tools to solve.
People need health care, not judgment. We need more programs like ASGCC’s – not fewer.
Today’s SJC decision means that HIV service groups, community health centers, and other social service agencies can continue needle access programs or start new ones, knowing they are fully sanctioned by state law.
Today’s decision means we can compassionately address our state’s opioid epidemic, and reduce transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C.
GLAD’s AIDS Law Project was founded in 1984 to fight the stigma associated with HIV and ensure society’s approach to the epidemic was based on sound health care policy – not discrimination. Life-or-death decisions like today’s SJC ruling are why we are still fighting today.
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