Pubdate: Thu, 20 May 2004
Source: Queens Tribune (NY)
Copyright: 2004 Tribco Inc.
Author: Azi Paybarah
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


"A church in the heart of Jamaica" may open its doors to intravenous
drug users looking to swap used needles for new ones, according to a
local health provider and members of the Southeast Queens Clergy for
Community Empowerment (SQCCE).

There have been "preliminary discussions about doing it in a church in
southeast Queens," said Executive Director Phil Glotzer, of the
non-profit AIDS Center of Queens County, hoping to run the program.

Declining to name the church publicly, Glotzer would only say it was
"a church in the heart of Jamaica...that runs a soup kitchen."

The topic was discussed at the health committee meeting of Community
Board 12 last week, and will be voted on at the group's general
meeting in June. At that meeting, CB12 members will learn of, and be
asked to vote on, the syringe exchange location, said District Manager
Yvonne Reddick.

When asked if board members should be told of the program's proposed
location prior to the June meeting, Reddick said, "You sit on the
board, board 12, you should know the boundaries, the facilities. You
should know what's in the district."

Reverend Ernestine Sanders, CEO of the SEQC said, "We have looked at
this thoroughly," adding the other programs in the unnamed church have
"not drawn an adverse crowd [because] we create the

Sanders said the church-based syringe exchange program will not be
"like meting someone under the train station and trade needles".

But despite clergy support, Community Board 12 approval is pivotal for
state approval of the program, said Sanders. Figures from the City's
Department of Health (DOH) estimate there are 500 intravenous drug
users living with HIV/AIDS, and roughly 1,706 people living with AIDS
in CB12.

CB12 Health Chairman, Dr. Canute Bernard, was available for comment at

Reverend Charles Norris of the Bethesda Baptist Church said he
personally supports the idea of housing the program in a church. "It's
a good idea, [it] may cut down on some of the AIDS proliferation," he

In a syringe exchange program, customers trade in used needles for new
ones, and can pick up injection kits that include everything a user
needs for safe injections, except the drugs.

At the site, clients can also pick up referrals for other health or
social services, even drug treatment counseling. In Queens, the
program would be run by ACQC, under city and state approval. To be
approved, community support needs to be demonstrated, state health
officials said. 
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