TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice released the following statement regarding reports that the number of new AIDS cases in New Jersey has declined without a needle exchange program through education and treatment.
“I am excited by the news of the decreasing number of AIDS cases throughout New Jersey, because it proves that through education, testing and treatment we are making a difference. We don’t need a needle exchange program to fight AIDS; we need to provide additional funding for the educational programs that are already working.
“The report put out by the Center for Disease Control makes it clear that even for intravenous drug users, the number of people infected is going down, without one syringe being handed out. The decline in AIDS cases can be attributed to the free, rapid AIDS testing, and programs that offer education and treatment.”
In this session, I am going to continue my fight to have Senate bill, S-445, which will provide $100 million to develop regional long-term care facilities and outpatient substance abuse treatment programs to meet the needs of those infected with HIV/AIDS, signed into law. It is evident from the preliminary report released by the Center for Disease Control , that I am right, as it relates to the need for regional facilities for people to visit and also stay for substance abuse treatment, counseling, to detox, and for any other services needed.
“I am happy that the Health Department will be launching a public awareness campaign using both radio and print ads throughout the State. The more aware people become the better their chances are for protecting themselves and others.
“If we allow for a needle exchange program, we are also going to see an end to the progress we have been able to make through education, testing and treatment. Needle exchange is only going to destroy the quality of life for our citizens, and bring more drug abuse problems, gang activity, violent crime and shootings.
“We don’t need syringes– we need funding for educational programs that will continue to raise awareness and help prevent more HIV/AIDS from taking place. We need to continue to offer fast and free HIV/AIDS testing for everyone. We must provide free or low cost counseling, and treatment for patients, and we can not stop looking for a cure.
“I will continue to fight fiercely to stop a needle exchange program, and push to have that funding used to expand HIV/AIDS programs in New Jersey. I know that with the proper medication, and knowledge of the disease, people infected with it can live productive lives, and can avoid passing HIV/AIDS onto others. The State has a moral obligation to support programs which would ease the suffering of AIDS victims, and would provide funding for the elimination of the AIDS epidemic.”