Local and Community News
Pittsburgh: Needle Program Seeking to Widen
March 10, 2003
Organizers of the Prevention Point Pittsburgh needle exchange program are looking to expand beyond their existing site in Oakland by opening a site in the Hill District. If PPP can obtain $100,000 to pay for supplies and staffing and receives final approval from the Allegheny County Board of Health, the site could open in June. The new site would help the program extend its services to the black community. Most of the people using the Oakland site are white, organizers said. At its meeting on March 5, the health board gave the group permission to begin raising money for the second site.Adapted from:
The Health Department provides space but no money for PPP. Health Director Dr. Bruce Dixon said the department would pay for about 50 hepatitis C tests, which have not been offered through the program before.
Last March, the health board authorized PPP to launch a pilot needle exchange in hopes of reducing the transmission of hepatitis and HIV among intravenous drug users. PPP distributes more than 6,500 syringes, as well as disease prevention and educational materials, to an average of 157 people each week. IV drug users each need about seven new needles every day. Fifty-one people have been tested for HIV; none had the infection.
Some board members expressed frustration that program staff could not say how many people in total received services, making it difficult to assess the program's effectiveness. They also raised concerns that free syringes might be getting sold to others.
PPP is doing an ongoing internal review. About 75 program users have been interviewed to identify their risky behaviors. They are being interviewed three to six months later to see if the service and education have changed any practices. The board told organizers to provide it with the total number of people served; the proportion of syringes returned; and research on similar city programs. After evaluating that information, the board will make a final decision about expanding PPP.
03.06.03; Anita Srikameswaran
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.