New Jersey's first needle-exchange program in Atlantic City is seeing some success in distributing clean needles but relatively less success in referring injection drug users to treatment, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. The three-year pilot program began in Atlantic City in November 2007 to measure the effect that a needle-exchange program would have on the spread of HIV and other bloodborne diseases in the city.
The Press of Atlantic City reported that more clean needles were distributed through the program -- 60,001 as of Jan. 5 -- than through similar programs in Camden, Newark and Paterson. Ronald Cash -- director of the city's Health and Human Services department -- said, "Word of mouth is obviously working" in helping to distribute clean needles.
However, the AP/Newsday reports that the program has not been as successful in referring clients to treatment and had the lowest number of referrals among the state's four needle-exchange programs, with 74 as of Dec. 21. The program recently added the option for patients to live in low-income housing in response to studies that show drug users with stable housing are more likely to give up drugs successfully (AP/Long Island Newsday, 1/19).