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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

MICHIGAN: Grand Rapids Drug Needle-Exchange Program to Branch Out from Downtown Site


Grand Rapids Press (09.27.11) - Monday, October 03, 2011

The City of Grand Rapids on Sept. 27 approved an expansion of the Grand Rapids RED Project's Clean Works needle-exchange program, clearing the way for the NEP to operate from a specially equipped van.

Clean Works has operated at the Heartside Ministry building, 54 S. Division Ave., for 10 years. In recommending an NEP in 1998, the Mayor's Task Force had called for its eventual expansion beyond the Heartside District, but Clean Works had sought only the fixed-site approval.

"We've definitely established a track record that gives us the credibility to go further than where we are now," said Steve Alsum, project director . "We would like to better serve this population with the mobile component." The NEP plans to look for sites on Grand Rapids' west side, the southeast side and in the area around 28th Street and Division Avenue, said Alsum. Clean Works is raising funds to purchase a van from a defunct Detroit-based NEP. In addition to having space for exchanging dirty needles for clean ones, the van includes a private area for disease screening and counseling.

Second Ward Commissioner Ruth Kelly praised Clean Works for protecting community health. "This is a real impressive project," she said. "They are to be commended for this."


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