Pubdate: Wed, 08 May 2002
Source: Peoria Journal Star (IL)
Copyright: 2002 Peoria Journal Star
Author: Sonya Klopfenstein,  The Journal Star
Cited: Lifeguard
Related: Please read thru the following to see exactly how this newspaper 
created the hysteria:
Bookmarks: (Harm Reduction) (Needle Exchange)


Ban Only Includes Give-Aways On Peoria Streets And Alleys

PEORIA - The City Council sided with neighborhoods Tuesday,
unanimously approving an ordinance that makes it illegal for needle
exchange programs to operate on the city's streets and alleyways,
despite pleas by public health officials.

The ordinance allows such programs - designed to stop the spread of
HIV, hepatitis and other diseases through use of dirty hypodermic
needles - to continue inside buildings in nonresidential areas.

"Drug users are vulnerable, but sometimes you've got to choose which
vulnerable populations you're going to help," said 2nd District
Councilwoman Marcella Teplitz. "We have a very delicate balance in
these neighborhoods. There are all kinds of assaults on (them). This
is just the icing on the cake."

For the past year, registered nurse Beth Wehrman has traveled from the
Quad Cities to the Peoria area to distribute clean needles to drug
users. As the coordinator of Rock Island-based Lifeguard Harm
Reduction Services, she also provides health education, condoms,
hepatitis immunizations and HIV tests.

"Voting no on this ordinance does not make you pro-drugs. It makes you
pro-disease prevention, and that is what we're concerned about," Julie
Pryde of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, who supervises
the Lifeguard program, said Tuesday night.

Pryde asked the council not to pass the ordinance until they sit down
and discuss the issue with health professionals. She said Lifeguard
would discontinue its services to the South Side area until a solution
is reached and that passing the ordinance could have "far-reaching"
and "devastating" impacts on the people they serve.

But that's not how leaders of the Olde Towne South neighborhood see

They recently caught on to Wehrman's routine near Matthew Street and
Lincoln Avenue and complained the needle program works against their
mission to rid the neighborhood of drugs and crime.

"Curbside service? We don't need that. They need counseling. If you
want to help the people in our neighborhood, you need to have
something set up in a building and monitor it," said June Moore,
president for the area bounded by Lincoln, Western and Jefferson avenues.

Needle exchange programs operate legally under state law, which
prohibits the possession of hypodermic syringes, but exempts those who
are engaged in "chemical, clinical, pharmaceutical or other scientific

Wehrman is contracted by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District
and partners with the private Chicago Recovery Alliance, which
conducts public health research.

Some council members said they recognize that drug users need help,
but running needle exchange programs from the streets of neighborhoods
isn't the best approach.

"I think everyone in the community is interested in helping these
people who need to be helped," at-large Councilman Chuck Grayeb said.
"We have got to do something to deal with that population more
effectively. I think we need to get them into a structured site where
they can get service and referrals."

Third District Councilwoman Gale Thetford said this issue should not
be done and over with Tuesday, insisting the city must do something to
address the drug problems that still will exist on the streets,
whether the needle exchange program continues or not.

Larry Rogers of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at
Peoria had hoped, like Pryde, that the ordinance would have been put
on hold until a task force of health professionals, neighborhood
representatives, city officials and others could develop a needle
exchange strategy that would be acceptable to all.

"The current program clearly is not acceptable and needs to be
re-thought rather than outlawed," he said. "Syringe exchange is being
successfully used in other communities like Peoria. When done well, it
benefits the whole community in several ways."
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake