Newark, N.J., Unlikely To Be Considered for Needle-Exchange Program Because of City Politics
Newark, N.J., likely will not be considered as a candidate for the needle-exchange programs signed into law by former Gov. James McGreevey (D) because of local politics and one "vocal" opponent to such programs, the Newark Star-Ledger reports (Wang, Newark Star-Ledger, 12/5). McGreevey -- who resigned his position on Nov. 15 -- in October signed an executive order allowing up to three cities in the state to establish needle-exchange programs in an effort to curb the spread of HIV and other bloodborne diseases among injection drug users. The order declares a "state of emergency" until Dec. 31, 2005, and authorizes the Department of Health and Senior Services to administer needle-exchange programs in cities that meet specific requirements (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/18). Newark has a "rampant drug problem," and it had the second-highest HIV-related mortality rate of any city in the nation in 2001, according to the Star-Ledger (Newark Star-Ledger, 12/5). Newark also is among the top five cities in the state with the highest proportion of AIDS cases related to injection drug use (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/27). However, Jim O'Brien, executive director of Addiction Treatment Providers of New Jersey, said that "city politics of Newark" would not allow a needle-exchange program to be implemented. He added that Newark's deputy mayor Ronald Rice (D), who also is a state senator, is "vehemently opposed" to needle-exchange programs and has said he will block any attempts to bring such a program to Newark. "I will go to hell before I ever support anything like that," Rice said, adding, "They will never get my vote" (Newark Star-Ledger, 12/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.