Sacramento City Council Approves Needle-Exchange Program
The Sacramento, Calif., City Council on Tuesday voted 8-0 to establish a needle-exchange program in the city in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV and other bloodborne diseases among injection drug users, the Sacramento Bee reports. The ordinance will provide government agencies and not-for-profit organizations with legal support to seek grants for the establishment of a needle-exchange program, according to council member Sandy Sheedy, who led efforts to create the program. The Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services will oversee any needle-exchange program in the city. Other details of how the program will operate -- including who will directly manage the exchange or where it will be located -- have yet to be outlined. "We may never actually win the war on drugs," Sheedy said, adding, "But we can take steps to protect the health of our community and residents." Some health advocates welcomed the measure, saying needle-exchange programs are an effective means of controlling the spread of diseases among IDUs. About 15,000 Sacramento County residents use injection drugs daily, according to the Sacramento health department. Contaminated needles are linked to almost 20% of AIDS cases in California, according to the state department of health (Sacramento Bee, 1/24).
California Public Radio's "KXJZ News" on Wednesday reported on the Sacramento needle-exchange program. The segment includes comments from Sheedy and a supporter of the program (O'Mara, "KXJZ,"1/23). Audio of the segment is available online.