Queens, N.Y., Working on Deal To Establish Needle-Exchange Program
Queens, N.Y., soon could establish a needle-exchange program as part of a deal between city officials and community groups in the New York City borough, the New York Daily News reports (Colangelo, New York Daily News, 3/25). There currently are no needle-exchange programs in Queens, and there is some resistance to starting such programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/3). Similar programs have been implemented in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, but not in Queens or Staten Island, according to the Daily News. Previous proposals for needle-exchange programs in the borough have been thwarted by community opposition, the Daily News reports. For example, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had proposed that a mobile van be stationed near the Queensbridge public housing project, but some people in the neighborhood opposed the plan. New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden has said that the lack of a needle-exchange program in Queens is a concern because the number of HIV cases among injection drug users in parts of the borough is rising, the Daily News reports. In addition, AIDS-related complications are the leading cause of death for New York City residents between the ages of 25 and 44, according to city health department data. Frieden, who on Wednesday released a citywide health policy, said that the other boroughs' programs have been successful, according to the Daily News. "For 10 years we've had syringe programs in New York City. What's happened is that the proportion of people who use drugs who are infected with the fatal HIV virus has fallen from 50% to about 12%," Frieden said. A community board still must approve the program, which would be administered by the AIDS Center of Queens County, according to the Daily News (New York Daily News, 3/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.