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Good News from Cleveland Needle Exchange

Yesterday, we posted an alert, asking members to write to officials in the city of Santa Cruz, California, in support of the Santa Cruz Needle Exchange Program, and in opposition to police targeting of program volunteers. <http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1997/5-1-1.html> Those of you who were with us in January might remember a similar, equally serious situation in Cleveland, Ohio, to which DRCNet responded. <http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1997/1-19- 1.html> The attached news release demonstrates that our efforts are not futile, and that your letters can and do make a difference.

Office of Mayor Michael R. White
Cleveland City Hall
Room 227
Cleveland, OH 44114
216/664-2239 - Fax 216/664-3570


For more information, please call:      NANCY LESIC,    664-2239

                                        LATISHA JAMES,  664-2405 

                                        JOE SKRABEC,    664-4529 

                                        TERRY GILBERT,  241-1430

MAY 1, 1997


The City of Cleveland and The Xchange Point, an Ohio-based AIDS service organization, have announced agreement on the commencement of operations of the second needle exchange program in the City of Cleveland. The two parties have been in discussion over the terms under which The Xchange Point can operate its needle exchange program in the City of Cleveland while meeting the requirement of the revised emergency order.

"It is critical that all needle exchange programs meet the requirements necessary to protect neighborhoods in which they operate, their clientele and staff members. It is because The Xchange Point has been willing to take steps to meet the City's requirements, including appointing a licensed physician as medical director, obtaining liability insurance, entering a formal written agreement to provide HIV testing, screenings, drug rehabilitation and treatment, that their program has been approved," stated Mayor Michael R. White in announcing the agreement.

Mayor White went on to state: "The City of Cleveland encourages innovative programs such as needle exchanges as one of several effective tools to fight the spread of AIDS among injection drug users. Needle exchange programs are just one component of the City's comprehensive battle against the devastating disease of AIDS."

"I believe that city officials have shown a willingness to negotiate in good faith, while maintaining their goal of ensuring good public health policy. We are satisfied that needle exchange workers can get on with the important task of helping Cleveland's communities reduce HIV infection," said Kenneth Vail, founding director of The Xchange Point. "I understand that this type of program must have regulations to protect the interests of the volunteers, workers, participants and the citizens of Cleveland. The Xchange Point intends to work within the requirements established in the City's revised emergency order."

Scientific studies have concluded that needle exchange programs reduce the incidence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other infectious diseases among drug users, their sexual partners and offspring. In addition, needle exchange programs have not been found to increase drug use. Furthermore, these programs act as a "bridge" to drug treatment, HIV testing/counseling and other social and medical services, and save taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala recently stated: "Needle exchange programs can be an effective component of a comprehensive strategy to prevent HIV and other blood-borne infectious diseases in communities that choose to include them."

Currently in the Greater Cleveland area, there are 1,015 individuals diagnosed with AIDS and an estimated five to eight thousand living with HIV. Since the start of the epidemic 2,274 individuals have been diagnosed with AIDS in Greater Cleveland.

The City of Cleveland and The Xchange Point will continue to work together in combating the battle of AIDS by measures which are safe and healthy for all Cleveland residents.

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