Five New Jersey Cities Ready for Needle Exchange Programs
June 13, 2007
On Tuesday, spokesperson Tom Slater said the state Health Department is reviewing criteria from five cities that applied to be part of a pilot needle exchange program. He said a decision is expected soon on applications from Atlantic City, Paterson, Camden, Newark, and Trenton, and the first pilot projects should be operational "we hope before summer's out."
Roseanne Scotti, director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey, said Atlantic City and Camden are expected to be the first cities to establish programs, as they have long sought state permission to start needle exchange programs and have already worked out the logistics. To qualify, a city has to have at least 300 HIV/AIDS cases attributable to intravenous drug use per 100,000 residents and at least 350 confirmed HIV/AIDS cases.
Last year, the New Jersey Legislature and the governor signed off on the pilot program, which allows up to six cities to establish needle exchanges for a three-year trial. Of twelve cities that met the criteria, only five applied. The program means New Jersey is no longer the only state without a legal way for drug users to get clean syringes. All other states have needle exchange programs or allow syringes to be sold without a prescription.
New Jersey had 66,886 HIV/AIDS cases as of June 2006. Forty-three percent (28,997 cases) were attributable to injection drug use, about twice the national average, according to the Health Department.
06.12.07; Angela Delli Santi