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New Jersey cities plan needle-exchange programs

New Jersey cities plan needle-exchange programs

Atlantic City, N.J., and Camden, N.J., have met a state deadline to apply for a needle-exchange program created by former governor James E. McGreevey via an executive order last October. The order, which declared a public health emergency, permits three cities to participate in the program. Nine cities were encouraged to submit applications, but only Camden and Atlantic City adopted the required local ordinances to create needle exchanges within their jurisdictions. Both cities could soon have their programs up and running if health officials act by May 6 on their applications, which include plans for program funding, operation, and outreach. Camden would set up a mobile exchange through a nonprofit agency. Atlantic City would set up mobile and fixed locations via a community AIDS organization. Health officials view the needle-exchange programs as a way to curb the spread of HIV in New Jersey. Injection-drug users account for more than half of the state's 62,000 HIV cases. In Atlantic City, one in every 40 residents--or 2.5% of the city's population--is HIV-positive, according to health officials. The 1,340 HIV cases in the city of Camden account for more than half of Camden County's total caseload. (AP)

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