Needle Swap Program Planned 

Needle Swap Program Planned 
Posted by FoM on February 11, 2000 at 08:33:39 PT
By Associated Press 
Source: Detroit News
A nonprofit agency is planning to offer a needle-exchange program for intravenous drug users, three years after Grand Rapids Mayor John Logie floated the controversial idea.   The needle exchange would be part of a broader effort to slow the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and other diseases through contaminated needles. 
  Jan Koopman, project manager for HIV/AIDS Services Inc., said there is ample evidence that providing clean, fresh needles to drug users reduces HIV infection rates.   "Study after study shows it does not increase drug use," said Koopman, hoping her agency begins the program by late spring or summer.   "It saves lives," she said. "If we know that it is going to save lives in a particular part of our community and we don't do so because it makes us uncomfortable, then what are (we) saying about how much we value those lives? It seems to me it's bigotry."   Koopman estimated there are 600 people with HIV in Kent County. Between 1994 and 1997, she said, 25 percent of new HIV infections in the county occurred among intravenous drug users.   Some 80 percent of women with HIV are injection drug users or partners of drug users, she said.   The program is funded in part by a pair of $12,000 contributions to Koopman's agency from the Grand Rapids Foundation. It also is funded by the Michigan AIDS fund, which is a collection of funds from private foundations, Koopman said.   It has no funding from the city, the state or federal government, Koopman told the Grand Rapids Press.   In January 1997, Logie proposed that the city consider a needle-exchange program to slow the spread of AIDS and hepatitis. The mayor subsequently named a task force to study the idea.   The plan came under attack from Republican officials. Among them: Darnell Jackson, the state's drug czar, and James Haveman, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. They said it conflicted with the state's "zero tolerance" on drugs.   The U.S. House since has passed a measure banning the use of federal funds for needle exchange programs, and Clinton administration officials have agreed not to seek federal funding for such programs.   In April 1998, the mayor's task force recommended that needle exchanges be adopted to prevent diseases. That plan was picked up by Koopman's agency, which was formed the same month as a collaborative effort to help those with HIV and AIDS.   Logie was pleased to learn of plans for the exchange.   "I am supportive of this effort," Logie said. "I hope it will be accepted in this community for what it is. There will always be people out there who will get hung up on providing something like this, because they think it is implementing or condoning bad behavior."   Logie said he does not believe a needle exchange should pose "any enforcement problem" for local police.   Grand RapidsPublished: February 11, 2000 Copyright 2000, The Detroit NewsCannabisNews Articles On Needle Exchange:
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: