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    Mayor to Decry Proposed Cuts in Needle Exchange Programs


    John DeStefano, Jr. City Of New Haven




    “AIDS and HIV are still urgent issues”


    NEW HAVEN –As many as 40 AIDS activists will join Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. during a news conference Thursday, March 1 at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall, 165 Church St., to detail proposed state budget cuts that could diminish needle exchange programs in five Connecticut cities.

    The specter of budget cuts have special poignancy for New Haven, which pioneered the use of clean needle exchange as a proven way to reduce AIDS in 1990. The city’s program not only has driven the incidence of AIDS and HIV infection down significantly, it also has placed more than 1,200 individuals into drug treatment since its inception.

    Taken together with a distressing letter the Mayor received just this week from the federal government regarding the possibility that the City’s “Ryan White” designation will be relaxed, city and community leaders fear that policy makers believe the AIDS crisis is over and can be put on a back burner.

    “AIDS and HIV infection are still urgent issues for our community,” DeStefano said. “We have done an incredible job, with shoestring resources, to drive reported cases of AIDS down. Still, intravenous drug use in New Haven still accounts for more than 39% of all reported cases of AIDS. The service needs of this clientele continue.”

    The Mayor, joined by members of the Ryan White Planning Council, the City Health Department and the Mayor’s Task Force on AIDS, will discuss how they are galvanizing to fight Governor M. Jodi Rell’s proposed budget, which would cut $100,000 from a $488,000 expenditure that pays for needle exchange programs in five cities – Hartford, Bridgeport, Danbury, New Haven and Stamford.

    New Haven was the first in the State to pioneer the use of needle exchange in 1990 as a way disrupt HIV and AIDS transmission in intravenous drug users. New Haven is known nationally for the program, which is so storied, a professor at Yale’s SOM, Ed Kaplan, created a mathematical model to prove the effectiveness of the program. Kaplan produced the first real data showing that New Haven’s program reduced AIDS and HIV contraction by 33%. The GAO reviewed Kaplan’s findings and went even further, estimating a 45% reduction.


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