needle exchange

NEEDLE EXCHANGE----Discarded needles at The Oasis Drop-in Center, part of the South Jersey Aids Alliance . While the needle exchange program in Camden flounders, the state’s first established program in Atlantic City is flouishing, boasting a crowd of clients and public funding. Housed inside a well-known outreach center four blocks from the bus center and a half-block from the jitneys, Atlantic City’s program has registered more than 175 people. Thursday February 28, 2008 ( Press of Atlantic City / Danny Drake)

ATLANTIC CITY — The state's busiest needle exchange program may not be located in the heart of the Tourism District much longer.  

The governing body is expected to introduce an ordinance at Wednesday's meeting that rescinds existing laws that allowed for the establishment of a sterile syringe access program in the city. 

The South Jersey AIDS Alliance, which operates the program on Tennessee Avenue, did not respond to a phone call Tuesday.

Sixth Ward Councilman Jesse Kurtz, who introduced a similar ordinance in March before it was pulled by council, sponsored the proposal. Kurtz could not be reached for comment but said previously he was against the needle exchange's location, not the program itself. 

In April, Carol Harney, president and CEO of the South Jersey AIDS Alliance, wrote an op-ed for The Press in which she acknowledged the city's designated Tourism District may not be the best location for the program and offered to work with local and state officials toward an amicable solution. However, she expressed concern that the proposed ordinance would rescind access to sterile syringes in the city altogether. 

The Atlantic City needle exchange, which has been operational since 2007, is one of six throughout the state, along with locations in Asbury Park, Jersey City, Newark, Paterson and Trenton. Through July, it was the most widely used location in the state this year, completing nearly 4,300 needle exchanges. The Atlantic City location's 98 percent return rate is the highest in the state. However, the Atlantic City exchange had the second-lowest rate of drug treatment admission among the six, behind Jersey City.

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Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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