Needle Exchange

Texas is the only state in the country that won’t allow needle-exchange programs for drug addicts. HB 65 is a needle exchange pilot program managed by Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, Harris, Nueces, Travis, Webb counties and various hospital districts. The program would not use state funds, instead it would financed with grants and donations. The Houston Aids Foundation estimates that there are roughly 27,000 people livings with HIV-AIDS in Harris County.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 30% of new cases of HIV/AIDS and 60% of hepatitis C can be traced to injecting drug use. The average lifetime cost of treating a person with HIV/AIDS is currently estimated to be $380,000. Lifetime costs of treatment for hepatitis C can exceed $300,000. Texas has the 4th highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the nation, with an estimated 63,000 Texans currently living with HIV, and at least 300,000 with hepatitis C. From 2002 to 2007, state Medicaid costs for HIV/AIDS services totaled more than $476 million; the cost of treating hepatitis C reached nearly $160 million. That did not include outlays by private payers, insurance companies, local hospital districts or federal programs like Medicare and Veterans Affairs.


  • Allow more counties (Cameron, Hidalgo) along the U.S.-Mexico border to participate in the pilot program
  • Finance a needle exchange by closing sales tax loopholes
  • Finance a needle exchange by creating a state public bank

Huffington Post – Washington D.C. Is Proof That Needle Exchanges Save Lives

Texas Tribune – Guest Column: The Conservative Case for Needle Exchange

House gives needle exchange program a nod

Margaret Thatcher’s Needle Exchange Was Revolutionary

New York Times – Why Needle Exchange Is Crucial to AIDS Prevention

New York Times – A.M.A. Policy Group Backs Needle Exchanges

New York Times – Politics Are Tricky but Science Is Clear: Needle Exchanges Work

New York Times – Mike Pence’s Response to H.I.V. Outbreak: Prayer, Then a Change of Heart

Houston Free Press – Needle Exchange Program Could Come to Houston

Needle Exchange Programs

WHO – Effectiveness of Sterile Needle and Syringe Programming in Reducing HIV/AIDS Among Injecting Drug Users

Houston Matters – Should Texas Initiate a Needle Exchange Program?

Al Jazeera – Amid ‘incredible epidemic,’ needle exchange programs gain momentum

Long overdue: needle exchange passes in House

Texas Monthly – Texas is the only state in the country that won’t allow needle-exchange programs for drug addicts. It’s time for that to change.

UT Paper on Needle Exchange Programs

National Institute for Health – Interventions To Prevent HIV Risk Behaviors

NPR – Indiana’s HIV Outbreak Leads To Reversal On Needle Exchanges

NPR – Congress Ends Ban On Federal Funding For Needle Exchange Programs

Kaiser Foundation – Sterile Syringe Exchange Programs

Think Progress – What Maine Can Teach The Rest Of The Country About Needle Exchanges

Think Progress – Drug users in Las Vegas will soon be able to get clean needles from vending machines

The Atlantic – The War on Drug Users: Are Syringe Exchanges Immoral?

The Guardian – UK policymakers of the 1980s knew the score

Human Rights Watch – U.S. Support of Needle Exchange Needed to Curb HIV/AIDS Epidemic

‘Evidence Says They Save Lives:’ Ireland to Open Injecting Rooms For Drug Addicts

At long last, Governor or New Jersey delivers on needle exchange funding

Politico – How Pence’s slow walk on needle exchange helped propel Indiana’s health crisis

Indiana State Department of Health OKs Lawrence County needle-exchange program

Texas Monthly – The Damage Done

USA Today – Texas Attorney General: Case against needle-exchange workers can proceed

PBS – Early results of W.Va. town’s needle exchange program show progress

Kaiser Family Foundation – The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the United States

Houston Chronicle – Texas AIDS deaths decline, but more youths HIV-positive

Reuters – Largest U.S. needle exchange tries free meth pipes in Seattle

Population Reference Bureau – Brazil’s Needle-Exchange Programs Reduce HIV Risks for Drug Users

State laws, police practices contribute to ‘HIV epidemic’ in Louisiana

Wall Street Journal – Needle Exchanges Gain Currency

Cincinnati explores its own needle exchange

Washington Post – White, rural drug users lack needle exchange programs to prevent HIV infections

Alaska’s largest needle exchange is rushing to keep up with demand

DA office’s support gives opioid task force green light to pursue needle exchange program

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