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County Health Board Moves to Keep Needle Exchange
  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; CDC Prevention News
Sept 4, 2004
Anita Srikameswaran
The continuation of a two-year-old pilot needle-exchange program was discussed Wednesday at a meeting of the Allegheny County Board of Health. The board decided to draft a regulation that would set up the rules under which the program - run by the group Prevention Point Pittsburgh - would operate and ensure its accountability, said Tim Curges, the health department's acting chief of the STD program.
Last month, the health department conducted three public hearings regarding the exchange. Health department spokesperson Guillermo Cole said the yet-to-be-drafted regulation would need to go through another public comment period and would also need approval by the County Council and CEO Dan Onorato. Renee Cox, PPP's executive director, said she was optimistic the program would be supported.
At Wednesday's meeting, Curges told the board that 64 of 67 people, or 96 percent, who responded during the recent comment period supported the program's continuation. Some expressed frustration the program did not acquire a more permanent status. "I am sorry that there's at least another two-month delay," said PPP board member Caroline Acker.
For seven years, PPP operated underground before the health board declared a public health emergency and authorized it as a pilot in 2002. PPP, which has an annual budget of $180,000, exchanges needles and offers HIV and hepatitis testing, case management and treatment referrals. The program has served more than 2,000 clients, and about 200 participate each week. About half of those tested are infected with hepatitis C, said Cox.
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