Springfield, Mass., Needs Needle-Exchange Program To Curb Spread of HIV Among Injection Drug Users, Editorial Says
The Springfield, Mass., City Council "has a duty" to approve a needle-exchange program to reduce the spread of HIV among injection drug users, a Springfield Republican editorial says (Springfield Republican, 5/3). The city's Public Health Council -- which advises and is appointed by Springfield Mayor Charles Ryan (D), who opposes needle exchange -- in March voted 7-4 to recommend that the city launch a needle-exchange program. City council members Bud Williams and Kateri Walsh in February said they planned to present a proposal for a needle-exchange program, but the chances of the council endorsing such a program remain slim because a majority of council members oppose the programs. City officials and needle-exchange program advocates said the program would be mobile, perhaps consisting of a van that would operate from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and focus on the three areas with the highest rates of injection drug use in the city (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/7). About 43% of HIV cases in Springfield are attributable to injection drug use, compared with a statewide average of 30%, according to the Republican. "The city has a health crisis on its hands and a treatment program at its disposal," the editorial says. The "familiar" arguments against a needle-exchange program -- that it promotes drug use, sends the "wrong message" to young people and undermines law enforcement efforts to stop illegal drug traffic -- are false, the editorial says, adding that programs in other Massachusetts cities have "proven success[ful]" (Springfield Republican, 5/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.