Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott rejected a bill on May 5 that would have legally sanctioned the state’s first program for giving intravenous-drug users clean needles to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, the San Antonio Express-News reports (mysanantonio.com, 5/6).

The program was proposed for Bexar County, Texas, which includes San Antonio. Many members of the AIDS community were hoping for support from the attorney general after three advocates were arrested in January for handing out clean needles to drug users.

“We were hoping the attorney general would see the value of operating the sterile-needle exchange…which included the distribution of sterile needles,” said Aurora Sanchez, Bexar County’s executive director of community and development programs.

According to the article, Abbott’s decision backs District Attorney Susan Reed, who has argued that the bill cannot overrule state laws, which hold that any person involved in needle exchange may be subject to prosecution.