Springfield, Mass., Human Relations Commission Votes in Favor of Needle Exchange Program
The Springfield, Mass., Human Relations Commission on Tuesday voted to "reaffirm its support" of a proposed needle exchange program to prevent the spread of HIV in the area, the Springfield Union-News reports. From July 1999 to June 2000, the rate of newly reported AIDS cases in the Springfield metropolitan area was 34.5 per 100,000, up from 18.5 per 100,000 the prior year, according to CDC statistics. "I am alarmed at the increase in newly reported cases of AIDS in the city," commission member Lesley Haines said, adding, "I see the needle exchange as a way to reduce new cases of AIDS. It has been proven successful in other areas." Massachusetts has needle exchange programs in Northampton, Boston, Cambridge and Provincetown. In 1998, the commission voted in support of a state-funded needle exchange program, but the proposal was rejected by the City Council. Critics of the needle exchange program said that providing drug addicts with needles "sends the wrong message," and some would prefer the money be spent on "drug treatment, education and outreach" to reduce the spread of HIV. The council will meet today to review the latest AIDS surveillance data from the CDC, which shows that Springfield ranks 11th nationwide in newly reported AIDS cases (Goonan, Springfield Union-News, 1/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.