San Diego Needle-Exchange Program at Issue
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders on Wednesday said he believes a measure to reinstate a needle-exchange program has the support of five city council members, the number of votes needed to approve the measure, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Supporters of the program say needle exchanges help reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other bloodborne diseases.
The city council approved a pilot program in November 2001. During its three years of operation, officials said it collected about 350,000 used needles and distributed about 285,000 new syringes.
The Alliance Healthcare Foundation plans to contribute $386,400 to the program if it is renewed to pay for staffing and supplies for the next two years.
A council vote is scheduled for Tuesday (Kucher, San Diego Union Tribune, 7/6).
Sanders "has bought into the controversial 'harm reduction' movement," a Union-Tribune editorial states, adding that supporters of needle-exchange programs "ignore the cruel reality that there is no way to make shooting up safe."
According to the editorial, AHF's contribution to the program "would be far better spent on treatment beds." The editorial concludes, "Such a move would not be politically fashionable, perhaps, but it actually would do some good" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/7).
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Wednesday reported on Sanders' plan and the city council's upcoming vote. The segment includes comments from Sanders (Ford Roth, "KPBS News," KPBS, 7/5).
The complete transcript is available online.