Pubdate: Wed, 18 May 2005
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2005 Associated Press
Bookmark: (Hepatitis)
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


On May 17, the Worcester City Council voted 8-3 to oppose a state Senate 
bill that would mandate needle-exchange programs across Massachusetts. The 
council passed a separate resolution explaining it was against the bill 
because it would remove local legislative control from the decisions 
involved in setting up the exchanges.

"Local control is something that is so important to our democracy, but 
sometimes the folks at the state level in Boston take it for granted," said 
Councilor-at-Large Juan A. Gomez. "We don't need a big brother telling us 
what to do. We know better than the state as to what is better for our 

But Councilor-at Large Dennis L. Irish pointed out that the bill calls for 
the creation of community advisory boards that would address local issues 
prior to implementation of a needle-exchange program. "The issue is not 
needle exchange and drug users; it has to do with this city's high rates of 
HIV and hepatitis B and C," said Irish. "This is a problem that affects 
women and minorities disproportionately."

Just four communities in Massachusetts operate needle-exchange programs - 
Boston, Cambridge, Northampton, and Provincetown. Worcester has twice voted 
down an exchange, most recently in 1999.