The San Diego city council on Tuesday voted 6-2 to continue a declaration of an AIDS-related public health emergency in the city and to extend the city's pilot needle-exchange program, which operates under the emergency status, The San Diego Union Tribune reports. Under state law, the council is required to periodically confirm the health emergency declaration in order to continue to operate the needle exchange, which aims to reduce transmission of HIV and other blood-borne pathogens through needle sharing and the use of dirty needles. Since July, 18,500 used needles have been collected through the program, which operates from a van that visits city neighborhoods with high incidences of drug-related arrests. The city council vote extended the pilot program for an additional year, after which the council will consider establishing it as a permanent project.
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