Residents of Rochester, N.Y., are urging AIDS Rochester to close its needle-exchange program center and instead use mobile vans to distribute clean needles and collect used ones because of problems in the neighborhood where the center is located, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports. Some area residents say the needle-exchange center has "stigmatized" the neighborhood and report finding used needles on the ground despite the fact that the center exchanges new needles for old ones on a one-to-one basis.
The city in January issued a "Memorandum of Understanding" for the center that outlined the regulations the center must follow or possibly be forced to relocate or shut down. The document says the agreement is meant to "improve health care and the quality of life among residents of the city." But some AIDS activists believe it is the first step in an attempt to get the center to close or relocate. "We're here because this is where the [heroin] crisis is," said Stephen Price, head of the needle-exchange center. "Driving us out will not take away the problem."