Majority of Allegheny, Pa., Residents Support Local Needle-Exchange Program, Health Department Says
According to reviews of public testimony taken last spring, a "majority" of Allegheny County, Pa., residents are "clearly in favor" of creating a needle-exchange program to slow the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among intravenous drug users, Allegheny County Health Department spokesperson Guillermo Cole said, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. In May, 40 residents testified at public hearings in "overwhelmin[g]" support for needle exchange, with another 40 sending letters to the department, the "greater portion" of which were in favor of the program. In September, the health board will convene a panel to study public comments before deciding whether to move forward with a pilot needle-exchange project. Prevention Point Pittsburgh has operated an "underground" needle-exchange program for years, distributing 310,000 needles to county cocaine and heroin users each year. The volunteer group has also begun field testing drug users for HIV and hepatitis C with a $5,000 grant from the New York-based Beth Israel Institute for Chemical Dependency. Prevention Point Pittsburgh supports the Health Department's establishment of a public needle-exchange program and hopes to help design it, co-director Stuart Fisk said (Weisberg, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/24). For more information on HIV/AIDS in Pennsylvania, visit State Health Facts Online.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.