Amid HIV concerns, Georgia legalizes needle exchanges

ATLANTA (AP) — Injection drug users in Georgia will be able to legally swap out used syringes for sterile ones under a bill the governor has signed into law.

The law legalizing programs that provide clean needles is aimed at preventing the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases.

A national HIV and AIDS research organization, amfAR, says such programs are currently legal in 28 states and Washington, D.C.

Advocates applauded Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to sign the bill Tuesday, saying it was “a victory for public health” amid a national HIV crisis.

Critics say the programs enable drug users.

At least one needle exchange program in Atlanta already operates publicly without users or operators fearing arrest because the program had previously established a relationship with local law enforcement.

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