San Diego City Council Votes To Extend Needle-Exchange Program
The San Diego City Council on Tuesday voted 6-2 to continue a previous declaration of a public health emergency and extend the city's pilot needle-exchange program, intended to reduce the spread of hepatitis and other bloodborne diseases, including HIV, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Huard, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/8). Under the program, a needle-dispensing van visits city neighborhoods that have high incidences of drug-related arrests. Clean needles are given in a "one-on-one" exchange, with no more than two needles exchanged at a time. The van is required to stay at least three blocks away from schools (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/29/01). Under state law, the council is required to declare a public health emergency in order to operate the needle exchange, the Union-Tribune reports. Since the program's inception in July 2002, 18,500 used needles have been collected, according to Council Member Michael Zucchet. The measure will extend the program for further evaluation for a one-year "test period," after which time the council's Land Use and Housing Committee will consider setting up guidelines for permanent sites if they decide to continue the project, the Union-Tribune reports. Zucchet said, "It's worth the try. So far, so good" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.