Pennsylvania County Agrees to Form Committee to Develop Needle-Exchange Program
The Allegheny County, Pa., Board of Health on Wednesday said it would endorse a pilot needle-exchange program, but did not agree to fund such a program, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The board agreed to form the advisory panel, select an administrator for the program and choose whether the program would be operated through a permanent site or a mobile unit. Board members stated that the county health department should regulate, but not fund, the program. Although state law prohibits possession of nonprescribed syringes, communities and cities such as Philadelphia have been able to exempt themselves from the law by declaring intravenous drug use a public health emergency. Allegheny County board members said they "would be willing" to declare IV drug use a public health emergency to establish a needle-exchange program and stated that they would like the program to include HIV testing and drug counseling (Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/6). A vote on the advisory panel's recommendations could come by the next board meeting in December (Associated Press, 9/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.