COLUMBUS, Ohio--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Advocates from the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland (ATGC), an affiliate of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), today lauded the Ohio House of Representatives for passing, in a 72 to 23 super majority vote, House Bill 92, landmark legislation which revises state code to authorize the establishment of syringe exchange programs for the purpose of reducing the transmission of bloodborne pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis. The bill was authored by State Representatives Nickie J. Antonio (D, House District 13) and Barbara A. Sears (R, House District 47). AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland was the original catalyst and sponsor of the bill four years ago and has been an ardent supporter throughout the legislative process. Cosponsors of H.B. 92 include Representatives Foley, Rogers, Ashford, Stinziano, Fedor, Strahorn, Brown, Letson, Barnes, Bishoff and Johnson.
“I look forward to continue working on this important piece of legislation and hope for quick passage in the Senate so that I can begin assisting other cities throughout Ohio with implementation of these lifesaving programs”
“This bill allows for communities to create a first line of defense against the epidemic created by the heroin crisis,” said sponsor of the bill, State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “It creates a path to treatment for those who are drug addicted and recover dangerous used syringes from playgrounds, parks, and city streets, reducing contact by innocent children.”
“H.B. 92 will allow local community leaders, law enforcement and health departments to make decisions about implementing this important public safety law throughout the state,” said Garith Fulham, Director of Ohio Public Policy & Advocacy for AHF. “We see this as a huge victory for public health and as another means to break the chain of possible infection with HIV, hepatitis or other bloodborne diseases among at-risk IV drug users. We thank Representatives Antonio and Sears for their bipartisan work on this landmark legislation, and would also like to thank Representative Mike Foley and the many other legislators who have stood with us on this issue over the past five years as we have worked to get this critical piece of legislation passed.”
"I look forward to continue working on this important piece of legislation and hope for quick passage in the Senate so that I can begin assisting other cities throughout Ohio with implementation of these lifesaving programs," said Chris Krueger, Syringe Access Coordinator for ATGC. “Working with the Cleveland Needle Exchange program over the past several years, I have seen firsthand how syringe exchange can reduce the transmission of potentially deadly infections among high-risk populations, and the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland will continue to work on this issue until this legislation is put into effect in Ohio and all cities throughout the state that want a syringe exchange program are able to have them."
The Cleveland Needle Exchange, which has been operating for the past 16 years, is one of only two needle exchange programs currently operating in Ohio. The other program is in the southern rural town of Portsmouth, which has operated its own needle exchange program for the past two years. Both programs were established via emergency resolutions passed by the respective city councils.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the USA. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 230,000 individuals in 28 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Additional information is available at www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter & Instagram: @AIDSHealthcare