Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill Tuesday that bans gay and bisexual men from sharing needles or syringes with HIV-positive individuals and sets a minimum punishment of two years in prison for people who inject HIV-infected people with a needle.
The law, which went into effect this week, comes after a number of states began to pass measures to crack down on people who may share needles.
Last month, New York Gov.
Andrew Cuomo signed into law a law that requires doctors to prescribe HIV-treatment medications to people who have injected someone with HIV.
On Tuesday, Scott signed the law in a ceremony at the state Capitol, which was attended by a small crowd of supporters and protesters.
The governor called the new law a “sustained effort to protect people who share needles, syringles and other syringates,” and said it will help to curb the spread of the virus.
Scott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press on whether it plans to use the law as a way to enforce a state law that makes it a misdemeanor to inject HIV and hepatitis B drugs into someone without a doctor’s prescription.
The bill requires people to obtain prescriptions from a licensed physician, and prescribers must be registered with the state Health Department.
Scott signed it with Democratic Sen. Michael Garcia, who said he believes the measure is necessary to prevent HIV from spreading and to protect the health of those who have been exposed to it.
“I think it is a very important step in this direction, and I’m proud of the governor who signed it,” Garcia said.
“I’m not concerned about it being the end of the world, but I’m concerned about the potential for a virus that could potentially spread into the community.”
Scott’s law applies to all state workers, including health care workers, who have a license to inject drugs, including those who work as licensed medical practitioners.
The state’s health commissioner has already issued an order barring anyone from injecting heroin or cocaine in the state, but has not ordered anyone to stop using syringe or needle-sharing devices.
Scott also signed an order requiring health care providers to make sure they have the appropriate licenses and testing kits.