Pubdate: Fri, 28 Mar 2003
Source: The News-Gazette (IL)
Copyright: 2003 The News-Gazette
Author: Kate Clements


SPRINGFIELD - As director of prevention for HIV, sexually transmitted 
diseases and tuberculosis for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, 
Julie Pryde meets intravenous drug users who share needles or have reused 
the same needle for years and years, sharpening it on matchbooks and even 
the sidewalk.

"You can get all kinds of things from that," she said.

Pryde visited Springfield Wednesday as part of AIDS advocacy day to ask 
lawmakers to pass a bill allowing people to purchase clean syringes at 
pharmacies without a prescription.

"If you need something to protect your health, you should be able to go 
into a pharmacy and buy it," she said.

Illinois is one of only five states that requires a prescription to 
purchase syringes. Many people travel to Indiana, where a prescription is 
not needed, Pryde said.

The controversial measure passed the Senate by a vote of 30 to 24 this week 
and now heads to the Illinois House.

Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems is fighting the 
bill, said its spokeswoman, Anita Bedell.

"This is a wrong move," she said. "It would allow them to continue their 
addictions and not get help."

Jim Pickett of Chicago's Faces of AIDS, said the bill is an important 
public health issue. "There is a cure for drug addiction, but there is not 
a cure for AIDS or hepatitis C," Pickett said.

Under the bill, people who buy syringes would be given information on how 
to get drug treatment and other health services at the same time, he said.

Supporters have been trying to pass the bill for five years to limit the 
spread of HIV and hepatitis C, and they believe the new Democratic majority 
in the General Assembly will help.

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District works closely with a 
privately-funded syringe exchange program that has received a research 
exemption from Illinois' current law, but the program has limited hours and 
does not reach everyone who needs it, Pryde said.

There are very few needle exchanges in other parts of state, she said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth