Rochester, N.Y., Residents Urge AIDS Rochester To Close Needle-Exchange Center, Revert to Mobile Units
Neighborhood and business groups in Rochester, N.Y., have urged AIDS Rochester to close its needle-exchange program center and revert to using mobile units to distribute clean needles, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports. AIDS Rochester founded the program 10 years ago to curb the spread of HIV and other bloodborne diseases by distributing sterile needles to injection drug users. However, some area residents have complained that the program "stigmatizes the neighborhood" and have said they have found discarded needles, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. Stephen Price, head of the outreach center, said that the group screens clients, keeps computerized records, requires used needles to be returned before new ones are issued and sends employees to patrol the surrounding area for used needles several times a week. City officials have said that they cannot "swoop in and get rid of the outreach center," according to the Democrat and Chronicle. Instead, the city in January issued a "Memorandum of Understanding" for the center, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. The memorandum, a binding agreement usually used with businesses against which complaints have been filed, "lists what two parties agree to do. If they don't adhere to it, we would have to demand they relocate or do something," Mayor William Johnson said. Under the agreement, the city could compile "points" against the center for nuisance complaints. If the points reach a certain level, the city could take action. The document says that it is meant to "improve health care and the quality of life among residents of the city." Price said, "We're here because this is where the (heroin) crisis is," adding, "Driving us out will not take away the problem" (Morrell, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 2/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.