2005-01-21 / Editorial/Opinion

Is A Needle Exchange Right For Far Rockaway?

There is no doubt that HIV-Aids is a critical and growing problem in the Far Rockaway community. Too many of our residents are dying of the illness and infecting others before they do. One of the major transmitters of HIV-Aids among drug users is a dirty needle. In an attempt to stop the use of dirty needles and help stem the spread of HIV, Community Board 14 recently approved a trial program that would bring a needle exchange mobile van to Far Rockaway one day each week. That was a controversial decision and, as with any health care decision, there are truths to be told on both sides of the issue. The needle exchange will undoubtedly provide clean needles to those who persist in using them, and in doing so, may save some locals from developing the dreaded disease. We have heard from one board member who voted for the plan that “if we save one life then it is worthwhile.” There can be no argument with that proposition. CB 14 has courageously addressed this important health and safety issue. They are not merely standing on the corner offering needles to whoever wants them. The program has far reaching implications as it offers addicts other venues to address the underlying problems of addiction as well as those entailed in day to day living. It looks like a good beginning and with Rockaway undergoing its own revitalization we can only hope to reach the disenfranchised and reduce the numbers affected by addiction in our community. Let’s give it a try.

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