Springfield, Mass., City Council To Consider Needle-Exchange Program Proposal
Springfield, Mass., City Council member Bud Williams has announced that he plans to reintroduce a proposal -- which he voted to defeat six years ago -- to establish a needle-exchange program in the city to help curb the spread of HIV and other bloodborne illnesses, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. The Massachusetts Legislature in 1993 amended a law that made it illegal to possess a hypodermic needle or syringe without a prescription to allow pilot needle-exchange programs to operate in Boston, Cambridge, Northampton and Provincetown. Williams in 1998 initially supported the establishment of a similar program in Springfield but later dropped his support, and the council defeated the measure 5-4. Williams now said he plans to reintroduce the measure to the city council. "I am not supporting drug use ... but I just feel we have to exhaust all possibilities," Williams said, adding, "If you can save one person, it's worth it." As of January, six out of every 1,000 people in Springfield were HIV-positive and 44% of those individuals reported using injection drugs, Helen Caulton-Harris, director of the city's Health and Human Services Department, said, adding that needle-exchange programs are necessary as "part of a comprehensive opportunity to educate" people about HIV/AIDS. The City Council Committee on Civil Rights and Race Relations, which Williams chairs, on Monday was expected to discuss the proposal (AP/Long Island Newsday, 4/5). In addition, the committee plans to tour a needle-exchange programs (Springfield Republican, 4/6). Springfield Mayor Charles Ryan (D) has said he opposes needle-exchange programs (AP/Long Island Newsday, 4/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.