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NO. 28. AN ACT RELATING TO THE PREVENTION OF HIV INFECTION.

(H.440)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1) Scientific data from needle exchange programs in the United States show that providing clean hypodermic needles and syringes to intravenous drug users does not increase drug use, but rather creates an important bridge to drug treatment and is effective in curtailing the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among intravenous drug users since sharing contaminated needles is the primary method of transmitting HIV infection within the drug user population.

(2) Injection drug users are the second largest group at risk of becoming infected with HIV and developing AIDS. This group is also the primary source of heterosexual, female and perinatal transmission of HIV and AIDS in the United States.

(3) Studies show that the lack of sterile needles on the street and the existence of laws that restrict providing clean needles work together to increase the spread of HIV by promoting needle sharing among injection drug users.

Sec. 2. 18 V.S.A. § 4475(a) is amended to read:

(a)(1) The term "drug paraphernalia" means all equipment, products, devices and materials of any kind which are used, or promoted for use or designed for use, in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a regulated drug in violation of chapter 84 of this title. "Drug paraphernalia" does not include needles and syringes distributed or possessed as part of an organized community-based needle exchange program.

(2) "Organized community-based needle exchange program" means a program approved by the commissioner of health under section 4478 of this title, the purpose of which is to provide access to clean needles and syringes, and which is operated by an AIDS service organization, substance abuse treatment provider, or a licensed health care provider or facility. Such programs shall be operated in a manner that is consistent with the provisions of chapter 159 of Title 10 (waste management; hazardous waste), and any other applicable laws.

Sec. 3. 18 V.S.A. § 4476 is amended to read:

§ 4476. OFFENSES AND PENALTIES

* * *

(b) Any person who violates *[the foregoing provision]* subsection (a) of this section by selling drug paraphernalia to a person under *[eighteen]* 18 years of age shall be imprisoned for not more than two years, or fined not more than $2,000.00, or both.

(c) The distribution and possession of needles and syringes as part of an organized community-based needle exchange program shall not be a violation of this section or of chapter 84 of this title.

Sec. 4. 18 V.S.A. § 4478 is added to read:

§ 4478. NEEDLE EXCHANGE PROGRAMS

The department of health, in collaboration with the statewide harm reduction coalition, shall develop operating guidelines for needle exchange programs. If a program complies with such operating guidelines and with existing laws and regulations, it shall be approved by the commissioner of health. Such operating guidelines shall be established no later than September 30, 1999.

Sec. 5. REPORT REQUIRED

The Statewide Harm Reduction Coalition shall report to the House and Senate Committees on Health and Welfare on or before March 1, 2000 on the progress of the development of needle exchange programs in the State of Vermont.

Approved: May 19, 1999