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U.S. News

New York: A Leap of Faith in the AIDS Fight

February 1, 2010

Catholic Charities will launch a mobile needle-exchange program on Monday with the goal of preventing HIV in two Albany neighborhoods where police believe injection drug use is most prevalent.

The social services agency of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany began planning and researching Project Safe Point five years ago, said Bishop Howard J. Hubbard. Its organizers have met with neighborhood groups, drug users, police, prosecutors, and AIDS activists. PSP has received support from the diocese's board and trustees, Albany County District Attorney David Soares, the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York, and local public health experts.

PSP is based on 17 similar programs across New York, though it is the first in the Capital Region. It is also believed to be the only one of its kind in the nation sponsored by Catholic Charities.

Under the program, an $83,000 custom van will park in the city's South End and Arbor Hill neighborhoods, exchanging used syringes for new ones and dispensing medical supplies. The service is free and anonymous. Trained staff hope to develop rapport with clients, providing them with information on health, safety and, ultimately, drug treatment options.

PSP's annual budget will be around $170,000, primarily from state funding. The financially strapped diocese, which has been forced to close and consolidate parishes in recent years, is not providing any money.

"This is an invisible population and we hope to bring them out of the shadows and give them the supplies and information they need to be as clean as possible for each use if they choose to continue injecting drugs," said Angela Keller, executive director of AIDS services for Catholic Charities.

Back to other news for February 2010

Adapted from:
Times Union (Albany, N.Y.)
01.29.2010; Paul Grondahl

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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.
See Also
Ask Our Expert, David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., About Substance Use and HIV
Needle Exchange & HIV/AIDS: New York