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Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
July 31, 2007

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Tom Slater

DHSS approves state’s first syringe exchange programs



The Department of Health and Senior Services has granted approval to Atlantic City, Camden, Newark and Paterson to establish syringe exchange programs for intravenous drug users, helping to reduce the spread of HIV among drug users as well as their partners and children.


The Department of Health and Senior Services gave approval to the four municipalities to participate in the three-year syringe exchange pilot program. All four municipalities submitted applications to the Department in May. These municipalities can begin syringe programs as soon as September 1 but must be operating by December 1, 2007.


“Needle exchange is a proven public health intervention that will reduce the spread of HIV and save lives,” said Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D., Commissioner of Health and Senior Services. “These four municipalities should be commended for their decision to develop syringe exchange programs as part of their comprehensive plan to reduce HIV transmission in their communities.”


Each program will be required to report the number of individuals participating in each program; the number of exchanged (distributed and collected) syringes; the number of participants referred into drug treatment programs, and the status of their treatment; the number of participants referred for other social services such as housing and employment, and the impact of the program in decreasing the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases. 


Syringe exchange has been endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Academy of Sciences, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Infectious Disease Society of America, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the HIV Medicine Association.


DHSS will also re-issue a request for application to the cities eligible under the statute:  Asbury Park, East Orange, Elizabeth, Irvington, Jersey City and New Brunswick. Municipalities who still wish to participate must submit an application to the Department of Health and Senior Services by August 24, 2007.


To participate in the pilot program, municipalities must have enacted an ordinance to establish a syringe exchange program, or plan to enact one prior to being approved to participate; have a minimum of 350 cases of individuals living with HIV/AIDS; and have a prevalence rate attributable to injection drug use of at least 300 per 100,000 population. 


New Jersey has the highest proportion of women infected with HIV in the nation, the third highest number of pediatric cases and ranks fifth in the nation for total cases. Approximately 70,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in New Jersey since the start of the pandemic and 33,449 are living with HIV/AIDS. More than half of the 70,000 New Jersey residents who have been infected with HIV are intravenous drug users or are the partners or children of drug abusers.


Minorities account for 75 percent of cumulative HIV/AIDS cases among adults and adolescents and 78 percent of all persons living with HIV/AIDS. Almost seven out of 10 persons living with HIV/AIDS are 40 years of age or older.


For more information about HIV/AIDS, visit or call the New Jersey HIV Helpline (1-866-HIV-CHECK).


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