N.J. Governor Must Change Position on Needle Exchange, Support Programs in Atlantic City, Camden, Editorial Says
New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey's (D) "political" opposition to needle-exchange programs is "wrong" because he "would rather risk" an increased number of HIV/AIDS cases "than risk being seen as soft on drug abuse," a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial says. Both Camden, N.J., and Atlantic City, N.J., are trying to implement needle-exchange programs "to help solve a serious public health problem," the Inquirer says (Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/28). The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General earlier this month said Atlantic City does not have the legal authority to implement the state's first needle-exchange program to combat HIV/AIDS among injection drug users in the area (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/25). Camden officials also have "been warned" against starting a similar program, according to the Inquirer. McGreevey is "foolish to ignore" the fact that more than half of the 62,752 HIV cases reported in the state through last year were transmitted through injection drug use, the editorial says. Exchange programs have "been around long enough to give political pantywaists the ammunition they need to support it," the editorial says, adding that there are more than 150 such programs nationwide. However, needle-exchange programs must be "combined with ... counseling for the addict and placement in a drug treatment center," the Inquirer says, concluding that McGreevey must "see the light" and allow Atlantic City and Camden to move forward with their needle-exchange programs (Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.