New Jersey: No Needle Exchange in Paterson; Mayor Wants Public Input on Plan to Slow HIV
May 23, 2005
On May 17, Paterson Mayor Joey Torres said he would not apply for state approval of a pilot needle-exchange program until he had heard constituent feedback on the issue. The city's health officer and the county's HIV planning council both favor needle exchange in Paterson, where more than a third of HIV/AIDS cases were acquired by intravenous drug users who shared contaminated syringes.
"As a policy maker, I do understand the argument that was made by our health care professionals. I will not do it without taking it to the public," said Torres, who personally opposes needle-exchange programs.
While New Jersey law bans needle distribution without a prescription, one of former Gov. James McGreevey's last official acts was an executive authorization of needle-exchange programs in three cities. The state Department of Health and Senior Services recently chose Camden and Atlantic City to host exchange programs.
Participating cities must submit an application for a needle-exchange program and adopt an ordinance permitting its operation. Last fall, Paterson City Council only adopted a non-binding resolution supporting McGreevey's order. Councilmember Ken Morris, who crafted the non-binding resolution, said he did not know the city needed to apply to participate in the program. "If it needed an ordinance, I don't think that would have been a problem."
Torres said he intends to talk with residents in an open discussion about needle-exchange programs, although no forums have been scheduled so far. McGreevey's order expires in December and -- unless Acting Gov. Richard Cody reauthorizes the programs or the Legislature passes a needle-exchange bill -- the programs will end then.
The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)
05.18.05; Tom Meagher
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.