A proposal to legalize programs in Georgia that give drug users clean needles in exchange for used ones is advancing in the state legislature.
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services unanimously approved the bill Monday, sending it to the full Senate. The measure has already cleared the state House.
Needle exchange programs aim to reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C infections among drug users who share needles.
Republican Rep. Houston Gaines of Athens, the bill’s author, says the proposal will “save lives and money.”
The Center for Disease Control says the estimated lifetime cost of treating one HIV patient is more than $400,000.
At least 29 states, including Georgia, have no laws authorizing needle exchange programs. Nineteen states have laws explicitly allowing these programs to operate.