Peoria City Council Rejects ‘Curbside’ Needle-Exchange Programs
The Peoria, Ill., City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance that makes it a crime to operate needle-exchange services in city streets and alleys, the Peoria Journal Star reports. However, the ordinance does permit needle-exchange programs, which are legal under state law, to continue to operate inside of buildings in nonresidential areas. Lifeguard Harm Reduction Services has for the past year conducted needle exchanges in the Peoria area and has also provided health education, hepatitis immunizations and HIV testing to its clients. Program supervisor Julie Pryde of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District urged the council to reject the ordinance and instead work with public health officials to reach a compromise. She said that the ban could have "devastating" and "far-reaching" effects on the intravenous drug-using community. However, civic groups opposed any plan that would allow needle-exchange programs to operate in the open. "Curbside service? We don't need that. [Drug users] need counseling. If you want to help people in our neighborhood, you need to have something set up in a building and monitor it," June Moore, president of the neighborhood association, said. "I think everyone in the community is interested in helping these people who need to be helped. We have got to do something to deal with that population more effectively," council member at-large Chuck Grayeb said, adding, "I think we need to get them into a structured site where they can get service[s] and referrals." Larry Rogers of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, who had hoped for a compromise, said, "The current program clearly is not acceptable and needs to be re-thought rather than outlawed. Syringe exchange is being successfully used in other communities like Peoria. When done well, it benefits the whole community in several ways" (Klopfenstein, Peoria Journal Star, 5/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.