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January 31, 2008

A New Jersey Needle Exchange Fights to Survive

In New Jersey’s Camden County—which ranks ninth among the state’s municipalities for HIV cases—a needle-exchange program is struggling to reduce new infections among intravenous-drug users, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports (philly.com, 1/30).

In 2006, New Jersey legalized needle-exchange programs to reduce the spread of blood-borne illnesses among IV-drug users. An Atlantic City exchange—operating out of an HIV counseling center—has registered 170 users in a state-mandated database since it opened its doors in November. Similar exchanges are set to open in Paterson and Newark.

Camden’s program, however, operates out of a single blue van due to a lack of funding. Kim McCargo, director of the program, says that financial difficulties make it difficult for her and other volunteers to spread program awareness.

“It’s discouraging,” McCargo told the Inquirer. “We really need more money to let people know that using clean needles can save lives.”


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