Paterson, N.J., Will Not Apply for Pilot Needle-Exchange Program, Mayor Says
Paterson, N.J., Mayor Joey Torres on Tuesday announced that the city will not apply to establish a needle-exchange program to reduce the spread of HIV and other bloodborne diseases among injection drug users, the Bergen Record reports (Meagher, Bergen Record, 5/18). Former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey (D) in October 2004 signed an executive order allowing up to three cities in the state to establish needle-exchange programs. The order declares a "state of emergency" until Dec. 31 and authorizes the state health department to administer needle-exchange programs in cities that meet specific requirements. The state invited nine cities -- Atlantic City, Camden, East Orange, Elizabeth, Irvington, Jersey City, Newark, Paterson and Trenton -- to apply for programs. However, so far only Atlantic City and Camden -- both of which last year adopted ordinances creating needle-exchange programs -- have volunteered to implement state-run programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/3). Torres, who opposes needle exchanges, said that the city's health officer and the county's HIV planning council favor needle exchanges. However, he did not apply for a pilot program because he did not have the "input of his constituents," according to the Record. By missing the May 6 application deadline and failing to apply for the program, the city may have "lost its chance" to host needle exchanges in the future, the Record reports. Paterson is the state's third-largest city and has the third-largest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the state, more than one-third of which are attributed to injection drug use, according to state Department of Health and Senior Services statistics (Bergen Record, 5/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.