New Jersey Appeals Court Issues Temporary Injunction Blocking Needle-Exchange Programs in Atlantic City, Camden
The Mercer County, N.J., Superior Court Appellate Division on Thursday issued a temporary injunction to halt the launch of needle-exchange programs in two cities just two weeks before the programs were set to begin, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. Atlantic City and Camden last year adopted ordinances creating needle-exchange programs and were scheduled to start the projects on July 1 (Delli Santi, AP/Long Island Newsday, 6/20). The cities planned to provide clean syringes for injection drug users in exchange for used ones, as well as referrals to health care providers, social services and addiction treatment programs if drug users asked for them (Livio, Newark Star-Ledger, 6/21). State health officials say the programs would help curb the spread of HIV among injection drug users, who make up more than half of the state's 62,000 people living with HIV/AIDS (Colimore, Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/21). The two cities, along with seven others, were invited by the state to apply for the programs under an executive order signed by former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey (D) in October 2004. The order declares a "state of emergency" until Dec. 31, authorizes the state health department to administer needle-exchange programs in cities that meet specific requirements and allows up to three cities in the state to establish needle-exchange programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/20). Appellate Court Judge Stephen Skillman issued the injunction, which was requested by seven state lawmakers who say McGreevey had no authority to sign the order (Newark Star-Ledger, 6/21). The programs now will be postponed pending arguments about their legality (AP/Long Island Newsday, 6/20). An appellate panel will rule on the case after hearing briefs and oral arguments (Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.