Washington Times Profiles New Jersey State Senator’s Fight Against Governor’s Proposed Needle Exchange Program
The Washington Times today profiles the efforts of New Jersey state Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R) to fight Gov. James McGreevey's (D) proposed needle-exchange program. In his effort, Cardinale plans to highlight a recent Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health study indicating that "high-risk sex," not needle sharing, is the "strongest predictor" of HIV infection among injection drug users. The study tracked 1,800 initially HIV-negative injection drug users from 1988 to 1998 and found an HIV incidence rate of 10.4% annually among sexually active homosexual males who injected drugs, compared to 4.5% per year for those who shared needles. Among female injection drug users, 8.1% contracted HIV through sex with infected men and 4.4% contracted it through sharing needles. McGreevey in February proposed the hospital-based program, in which injection drug users would exchange used needles for clean ones in order to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis. Cardinale said, "It's counterproductive for the government to be facilitating injection drug use," adding, "The best program is to tell people, starting when they are young and in grammar school, that the use of drugs is destructive and stupid behavior." Johns Hopkins researchers said that the findings of their study "should not be interpreted as meaning there is less need for needle-exchange programs to reduce HIV risk" (Howard Price, Washington Times, 7/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.