San Diego Reader (04.11.12) - Thursday, April 12, 2012
The San Diego City Council this week approved a $51,000 grant
for the Safe Point San Diego needle-exchange program (NEP) run
by Family Health Centers of San Diego.
Launched in 2001 to reduce HIV and hepatitis C transmission
among injecting drug users, Safe Point provides needle-
exchange services from its mobile unit two days a week: on
Thursday evenings downtown, and on Friday mornings in North
Park. IDUs can exchange up to 30 used syringes for new ones.
Safe Point also offers case management, educational services,
and referrals to drug treatment.
Family Health has received funding from several charitable
groups to support Safe Point, according to spokesperson Ben
Avery. He added that the city will support the outreach
through 2013 with Community Development Block Grant funds.
Family Health's funding application states that the program
has prevented the improper disposal of more than 1.5 million
used syringes and made 29,773 referrals to support services
since its launch. Safe Point was funded originally by Alliance
Healthcare Foundation, which ended its support in June 2010.
Members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, however,
oppose NEPs, which they believe encourage drug use. Avery said
he is not aware of any move by supervisors "to reconsider
their opposition to the program."