Grant to Study Attitudes About Worcester, Mass., Needle-Exchange Program Criticized
The Henry Lee Willis Center Inc. received a $10,000 state grant in December to survey attitudes about needle-exchange programs in Worcester, Mass., but opponents call the grant an "attempt to undermine local government," citing the City Council's rejection of such a program in 1999, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports. State health officials call the idea "nonsense." Dr. Jean McGuire, assistant state health commissioner and director of the state's HIV/AIDS Bureau, said that the grant, one of nine in the state, is a response to Gov. Paul Cellucci's (R) call for the health department to "redouble efforts" to set up "locally approved" needle-exchange programs and is an "attempt" to inform citizens that "needle exchange can slow the HIV/AIDS epidemic among the city's intravenous drug users." Sixty percent of Worcester's HIV-positive residents are IV drug users, according to the Willis Center, which has operated an AIDS outreach program since 1995 (Melady, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 1/11).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.