Atlantic City Council should delay moving the state’s biggest needle exchange to a mobile unit because doing so would limit access, a spokeswoman for the program said on Friday. City council did not consult with health care professionals in drafting the ordinance that could force the needle exchange from its office location in the Tourism District as soon as next month, or when the ordinance is next approved on second reading, according to a statement from the Carol Harney, the chief executive of South Jersey Aids Alliance.
“We call for the City Council to hold off on a second reading in order that it may consult with health leaders at both the State and at the South Jersey AIDS Alliance to consider whether enactment of this proposed Ordinance will effectively impact the spread of disease such as HIV/AIDS and/or if other solutions can best be employed through adjustment of the replacement Ordinance or other means,” Harney said. (Read the full statement below)
New Jersey Department of Health officials told us earlier this year that they were aware of plans to move the exchange, but it is not clear how involved they were with the council’s ordinance. It was not immediately possible to reach councilman Jesse Kurtz, who proposed the ordinance, for comment.
Harney also requested time to secure funding for the mobile unit. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is expected to help fund for the move. A CRDA spokeswoman earlier this week did not respond for a request for comment on the progress of the funding plan.
The South Jersey Aids Alliances’ Oasis Drop In-Center on Tennessee Avenue has doubled its needle recovery rate in the last year, since Route 40 first reported on the problem of used needles in the Tourism District. But the exchange gets fewer members into recovery treatment than some smaller programs in the state, according to NJDoH data reported by Route 40.