The Oklahoma House of Representatives recently advanced bipartisan legislation regarding the disposal of dirty needles and harm-reduction services.
The sharing of dirty needles contributes to diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C. Oklahoma has the nation’s highest Hepatitis C death rate, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Under House Bill 3028, licensed professionals would be permitted to perform syringe service programs that have been approved by the CDC. The programs are designed to reduce dirty-needle proliferation and drug use.
Licensed professionals include those working with county health departments, state agencies, churches, for-profit businesses, and other organizations. Individuals would need to be registered with the state and comply with a reporting structure designed to monitor needle and addition reduction.
The state Department of Health would be required to create rules that provide accountability for the program.
A sunset date of July 1, 2025, was added to the bill to allow for evaluation of the program’s success.
Numerous organizations support the bill including the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund, the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma Academy of Physician Assistants, the
Oklahoma Hospital Association, the Healthy Minds Policy Initiative, Professional Firefighters of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State Firefighters.
The bill moves to the Senate for consideration.