New York Daily News Examines Queens’ Needle-Exchange Program
The New York Daily News on Sunday examined a needle-exchange program in the New York City borough of Queens (Colangelo, New York Daily News, 4/6). The program, administered by the AIDS Center of Queens County, launched in November 2004.
The center began operating the needle-exchange program after garnering the support of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Department of Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall (D) (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/14/04). Even with such "powerful support," the center "treads carefully" as it works to expand needle exchanges in Long Island City, Jamaica, Far Rockaway and Corona, the Daily News reports. Although the center has encountered "initial resistance" in most locations, compromises and "continual meetings with local officials have smoothed the way," according to the Daily News.
The center estimates that 70% of the syringes handed out are returned. "We know that when they bring syringes back to us, it means the syringes are not being disposed of improperly," Steven Fox, the center's harm reduction coordinator, said, adding, "It also means they're not being shared." According to the Daily News, part of the program's success lies in its use of peer outreach workers -- former or current injection drug users who go out into the communities and explain the importance of using clean needles, register new clients and distribute packs to help IDUs safely dispose of their needles.
Philip Glotzer, executive director of the center, said it is part of the center's "no-pressure" approach. "Until you can get the person to the place where they're ready to make healthier decisions, you at least keep them as healthy as can be," Glotzer said (New York Daily News, 4/6).