Pubdate: Tue, 9 Mar 2004
Source: New York Daily News (NY)
Copyright: 2004 Daily News, L.P.
Author: Donald Bertrand, Daily News Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


A controversial needle exchange program for Long Island City has been
tabled by the community board to allow more time to study the plan.

Community Board 2, which represents Long Island City, Sunnyside,
Woodside and Maspeth, decided not to vote on the proposal recommended
by the board's health and human services committee.

The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene requested a site in
the area and is also proposing sites for Corona, Jamaica and the
Rockaways. The areas all have high incidences of HIV and AIDS.

"We had been asked by the borough president to put this off so she
could do more program work and talk to the people working the program.
She wants a program that helps people get off drugs and not to sustain
them on drugs," said board chairman Joseph Conley.

Queens and Staten Island are the only two boroughs that do not have
needle exchange programs and the only two boroughs where AIDS cases
are increasing for intravenous drug users, said Philip Glotzer,
executive director of the AIDS Center of Queens County, which would
run the program.

The plan is to exchange needles once a week between 11p.m. and 3 a.m.
from a mobile unit at Vernon Blvd. and Queens Plaza South.

The plan is opposed by the Queensbridge Houses Tenants Association and
by the Center of Faith church, which is nearby but within the area
covered by Community Board 1.

"We are going to do an outreach with Community Board 1 and have the
health commissioner [Dr. Thomas Frieden] come back and the people
running the program to talk to residents and church groups in the area
that may have concerns," said Conley.

Conley praised health committee chairman Ron Casey for the work he
did. "Our first reaction was, 'No, we don't want this,'" said Conley.

Casey visited two needle exchange locations in Brooklyn, where he
found residents did not seem to have a problem with the exchange.

"It is a very controlled program," said Conley. "It is not inviting
drug users into the area."

"It is," he said, "helping to prevent the spread of AIDS, and people
cannot keep their heads in the sand. We have to do something about
this epidemic."
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