San Antonio, Texas, Group Aims To Start Not-For-Profit Needle-Exchange Program
A group of AIDS advocates in San Antonio, Texas, plan to form a needle-exchange program designed to reduce HIV transmission among injection drug users, the San Antonio Express News reports. The program, which organizers are calling the Bexar Area Harm Reduction Program, would distribute free, sterile syringes to injection drug users in exchange for used syringes and would offer a variety of AIDS and drug use education and counseling services. Needle-exchange programs have provoked controversy in the past over concerns that they encourage drug use, so the group is seeking to quell possible objections to the program by seeking the support of local officials and churches and community-based groups in the area. Bexar County currently has an estimated 9,000 drug users who account for 17% of the area's AIDS cases, according to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District's HIV Prevention Program. The group is currently applying for not-for-profit status, analyzing costs and seeking charitable donations for the program, Bill Day, spokesperson for the group, said, adding that they hope the program will be operational by September (Barnes, San Antonio Express News, 5/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.