Pubdate: Thu, 25 Mar 2004
Source: New York Daily News (NY)
Copyright: 2004 Daily News, L.P.
Author: Lisa L. Colangelo, Daily News City Hall Bureau
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


A needle exchange program could soon be in place in Queens, where
community opposition had stymied prior efforts to hand out syringes.

Under a deal hashed out by city officials and community groups, the
borough's first exchange program would be set up in a Long Island City
facility that serves people with HIV and AIDS. Health Commissioner
Thomas Frieden, who released an ambitious citywide health policy
yesterday, said the programs have been successful in other boroughs.

"For 10 years we've had syringe programs in New York City," Frieden
said. "What's happened is that the proportion of people who use drugs
who are infected with the fatal HIV virus has fallen from 50% to about

AIDS is the leading cause of death for New Yorkers between 25 and 44,
the Health Department said.

The city has had needle exchange programs in Manhattan, Brooklyn and
the Bronx - but not in Queens or Staten Island. Frieden said the
program is needed because AIDS cases among IV drug users are
increasing in parts of Queens.

But Queens residents have resisted.

The latest battle started when the Health Department tried to set up a
mobile van near the massive Queensbridge public housing project.

"When I heard that this was going to be sited within a block of
Queensbridge without even a courtesy call to the Queensbridge Tenants
Association, I was outraged," said Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Queens)
who helped broker the deal.

The AIDS Center of Queens County has agreed to house the program at
its Hunter Ave. office. The plan still needs the approval of Community
Board 2. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake