Local and Community News
Buffalo, New York: Needle Exchange Program Withdrawn
August 20, 2002
Kaleida Health agreed Friday to delay plans for a needle exchange program set to open at the Urban Services Center in Buffalo, N.Y., just minutes into a meeting with angry parents and residents. Having won their cause, attendees then grilled University District Councilmember Betty Jean Grant, who endorsed the exchange program months ago, for not seeking more community input. Grant countered that political opponents orchestrated the meeting to humiliate her.Adapted from:
"If you don't want a needle exchange program here, we will not have a needle exchange here," said Raymond Ganoe of Project Reach, Kaleida's HIV/AIDS prevention program. Kaleida's announcement surprised many at the meeting and was met with applause. The site will remain an AIDS education center. Ganoe said his agency would hold more public meetings on needle exchange to educate residents and gauge community sentiment.
About two dozen people attended the meeting, mostly parents worried their children would find used needles while walking to and from school. Ganoe said such fears were unfounded since addicts would be less likely to throw dirty needles on the street if they could be exchanged for free, clean ones. He said an exchange program Project Reach operated on the West Side has resulted in a 40 percent to 60 percent drop in HIV infection rates among intravenous drug users. The overall infection rate in the area fell from 7 percent to 2 percent, he added. "I'm not saying it's a good thing [the proposed exchange program] is getting shut down," Ganoe said after the meeting. "People are going to get sick and die as a result."
Grant chided Ganoe for "throwing in the towel" in the face of Friday's opposition, saying the decision should have been delayed until after a more formal public hearing. Responding to angry parents who said they had not been informed about the program, Grant said that there have been three public meetings about the proposed site since January and that she had notified local business owners and block club presidents.
08.17.02; Gary Chandler
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.