New York City Needle-Exchange Programs Linked to Reduction in HIV Infection Among IV Drug Users
HIV infection rates among intravenous drug users in New York City have dropped in areas with needle-exchange programs, Newsday reports (Ramirez, Newsday, 8/14). New York researchers announced at this week's National HIV Prevention Conference that the needle-exchange programs established in New York City have been "the key" to successfully lowering HIV infection rates among local IV drug users (Garrett, Newsday, 8/14). Surveys of 11,000 drug users indicate that the rate of HIV infection among IV drug users has dropped from 50% before the implementation of needle-exchange programs to 20% today. In addition, the percentage of IV drug users who contract HIV each year has dropped from 5% to 1% due to needle-exchange programs (Wilson, "Morning Edition," NPR, 8/14). Dr. Don Des Jarlais of Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan said that since the implementation of needle-exchange programs in parts of New York, "what has gone way down is the rate of new [HIV] infections replacement ... so that the number of new infections no longer matches the number of AIDS deaths." Needle-exchange programs have been implemented in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, but not in Queens or Staten Island. Des Jarlais said that if "the whole city cooperates" in establishing needle-exchange programs, New York may "execute the most dramatic reduction in HIV transmission seen in the world." Newsday reports that "community resistance" has blocked the creation of needle-exchange programs in Staten Island and Queens, but Des Jarlais said that expanding the programs to those areas could help cut HIV infection among IV drug users in the boroughs. Responding to the findings, Queens Borough President Claire Schulman said, "I'm in favor of a clean needle-exchange program in Queens. Anything that can help lower the number of people infected with HIV should be done." Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) added that the positive findings "will undoubtedly increase support in Congress for needle-exchange programs" (Garrett, Newsday, 8/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.