§ 23-11-18. Legislative findings.
The general assembly recognizes and declares that:
(1) The special legislative commission to study the feasibility of implementing a needle exchange program has met in accordance with 1992 joint resolution 192, and strongly recommends passage of a law enabling the department of health to implement a pilot needle exchange program for the prevention of HIV transmission among intravenous drug users;
(2) Seventy-one percent (71%) of all AIDS cases among women are linked to injection drug use; fifty-eight percent (58%) of children with AIDS were infected through their mother who injected drugs or had sex with an IDU. In Rhode Island, the number of injection drug users has been estimated as high as eight thousand (8,000); and intravenous drug use accounts for forty-five percent (45%) of reported cases of HIV infection since 1989;
(3) The yearly cost of a syringe exchange program is often less than the costs to treat a single person with AIDS. The lifetime medical costs for treating someone with AIDS is approximately eighty-five thousand dollars ($85,000);
(4) Needle exchange programs have been shown to reduce HIV transmission by as much as thirty-three percent (33%), and have been successfully implemented in over twenty (20) locations in the United States, including Boulder, Colorado; New Haven, Connecticut; Honolulu, Hawaii; Portland, Oregon; Seattle and Tacoma, Washington; San Francisco, California; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Indianapolis, Indiana;
(5) That legislation is necessary to enable the department of health to pursue additional funding from the federal government and private foundations for a needle exchange program; and the general assembly of the state does recognize and declare that a well designed and well monitored pilot needle exchange program should play a vital and necessary role in our larger public health effort to reduce the transmission of HIV; and
(6) This act should not be misconstrued to mean that the state endorses or encourages the illegal use and/or abuse of illicit or harmful substances in any form or method of transmission whatsoever. Rather, the express purpose of this act is to assist in the reduction of the transmission of life-threatening diseases, such as AIDS and HIV, through the use of contaminated needles and syringes. Moreover, it shall be the ongoing policy of the state to use its considerable resources to educate its citizens about the dangers of all forms of substance abuse in any manner of transmission and to foster programs of prevention so as to reduce the incidence of substance abuse, drug addiction, AIDS/HIV, and like problems.
(P.L. 1994, ch. 30, § 1.)