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Gov. Chris Christie has signed legislation provides state funds for needles that are distributed to intravenous drug users as a way of preventing the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.

The legislation directs that $200,000 go to five New Jersey needle-exchange programs operating in Atlantic City, Camden, Newark, Jersey City and Paterson. The legislation also now permits any municipality in the state to launch syringe-access programs.

“These programs not only distribute clean syringes to intravenous drug users, but also deliver lifesaving education, treatment and testing to their participants,” according to Christie’s bill-signing statement.

A 2012 report by the New Jersey Department of Health declared the program a success for helping 10,000 residents of Atlantic City, Camden, Newark, Jersey City and Paterson reduce their risk of HIV and hepatitis and gain access to an array of public health and social services.

To read more coverage of South Jersey’s heroin epidemic, click here.

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