Florida Senate panel OKs needle exchange pilot program

Program would help prevent spread of disease

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Florida Senate panel has approved a bill that would set up a test project to legalize syringe and needle exchanges in Miami-Dade County.

The bill cleared the Senate Health Policy Committee on a 9-0 vote Tuesday.

The proposal (SB 808) would allow the creation of the pilot program in which drug users can exchange used IV needles and syringes for clean ones. The idea is that such exchanges help prevent the spread of HIV and other illnesses. They are currently illegal under Florida law.

The exchange would be run by the state's Department of Health or perhaps a designated hospital. No state funding would go to the initiative, and the pilot project would last five years under the proposal.

Similar legislation is being considered by the Florida House.

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