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Emergency Management & Public Health

Posted on: July 21, 2023

State Enables Expansion of Harm Reduction Centers

This week, the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) published regulatory changes in the New Jersey Register to facilitate the development of harm reduction centers (HRC) throughout the state. Harm reduction centers are an important tool in reducing the detrimental effects of drug use, connecting individuals to resources, and combating the impact of the nationwide opioid epidemic. Comments must be submitted before September 15. 

The regulatory changes pursuant to P.L. 2021, c.396, formally establish the procedures entities will follow when applying to register as harm reduction centers with DOH as well as the operational requirements by which an authorized center may provide harm reduction services. The new rules also clarify various rights of the centers, including that they can provide authorized harm reduction services at a fixed and/or mobile location. Federally Qualified Health Centers, substance use treatment programs, AIDS service organizations, public health agencies, and other entities can now apply on a rolling basis to be registered as a harm reduction center. 
 
 The changes also remove a previous rule that required municipalities to have a certain number of residents with HIV/AIDS to be eligible for a harm reduction center. 

Harm reduction provides people who use drugs with critical resources, such as clean needles and naloxone, in a safe, non-judgmental environment. This approach has been proven to help prevent overdoses, limit the spread of infectious diseases, and connect individuals to counseling and treatment options. Each current HRC is co-located with an Access to Reproductive Care and HIV (ARCH) Nurse, who provides services to prevent vertical HIV and hepatitis C transmission through the early identification of high-risk individuals.  

We encourage you to share this information with your public health officials. 

Contact: Paul Penna, Senior Legislative Analyst, ppenna@njlm.org, 609-695-3481, x110.

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