West Coast Forward, East Cost Back: San Diego Needle Exchange One Step Closer, Defeat in Prince George's County, Maryland 10/20/00

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Last month, DRCNet reported on preliminary steps toward a privately-run but city-approved needle exchange program to deal with a burgeoning Hepatitis C epidemic (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/151.html#sdexchange).

On Monday, the San Diego City Council officially declared a Hepatitis C emergency on a 5-2 vote, paving the way for a well-crafted and broadly supported needle exchange program.

"This is a real epidemic," Ian Trowbridge, a professor at Salk Institute and UCSD, told the San Diego Union Tribune.

Along with declaring a medical emergency, the city council has ordered the city manager to create a task force to develop a one-year pilot program. The council will vote on the issue again before any needles are distributed.

The city's turnaround on needle exchange stands in stark contrast to the position of San Diego County. The county's Board of Supervisors has for a decade refused to allow such programs.

Trowbridge noted that the county's own data shows that the number of cases of hepatitis C doubled between 1998 and 1999 in San Diego County.

"I don't know how many cases the county needs before it declares a state of emergency," he said.

Wednesday's Washington Post reported that the neighboring Prince George's County Council voted 5-3 against opening a needle exchange program in the county. Council member Thomas Hendershot (D-New Carrollton), who introduced the proposal in February, said his colleagues had ended a chance to help save lives in a county that has the state's second highest number of AIDS cases.

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Issue #156, 10/20/00 Drug Czar Resigns, McCaffrey to Step Down January 6th | Slouching Toward Putumayo: Plan Colombia Gears Up, Battle Front Heats Up, Europeans Throw Their Hands Up, Rights Group Issues Heads Up | Drug War Toll from Police Shootings Continues to Rise -- How Many Dead? Nobody Knows Because Congress Doesn't Care | West Coast Forward, East Cost Back: San Diego Needle Exchange One Step Closer, Defeat in Prince George's County, Maryland | Follow That Story: Tulia Relief Fund Issues Appeal | Barney Frank Makes Drug War an Issue, Again | Europeans Release 2000 Drug Report | The Reformer's Calendar | Editorial: Saying Goodbye (and Good Riddance) to a Drug Czar
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