Needle-Exchange Programs ‘Critical Part’ of Efforts To Stop Spread of HIV in Atlantic City, N. J., Other Areas, Opinion Piece Says
Needle-exchange programs are a "critical part" of the efforts to curb the spread of HIV, especially in areas like Atlantic City, N.J., where injection drug users and commercial sex workers have "turned" the city into the "scene of an AIDS epidemic," New York Times columnist Brent Staples writes in a Times editorial observer piece. Although injection drug users need "treatment and counseling," such programs are in "short supply" and the city "can't wait to slow the spread of [HIV]," Staples writes, adding that the "critical part of the solution is to supply addicts with clean needles" (Staples, New York Times, 7/20). Atlantic County Prosecutor Jeffrey Blitz last month filed a lawsuit to halt the implementation a needle-exchange program the county. The Atlantic City Council had approved 7-1 a proposal to implement the program, although the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General in May said that the proposed program does not have the legal authority to operate. The council authorized Atlantic City health officials to distribute syringes through a van that already provides medical services in the community (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/25). Every time this van "hits the street without clean needles, an opportunity is lost and new lives are placed at risk," Staples concludes (New York Times, 7/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.