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Supporters to rally Tuesday to keep needle exchange program in AC
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Supporters to rally Tuesday to keep needle exchange program in AC

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Needle exchange in Atlantic City

Advocates for Atlantic City’s clean syringe exchange program at 32 S. Tennessee Ave. will rally Tuesday in support of a new fixed location for the needle exchange as City Council weighs its future.

ATLANTIC CITY — Advocates for Atlantic City’s clean syringe exchange program will rally Tuesday in support of a new fixed location for the social service as City Council weighs its future.

Representatives from New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition and the South Jersey AIDS Alliance, which runs the needle exchange at the Oasis Drop-in Center on Tennessee Avenue in the city’s Tourism District, will gather with other supporters at 2:30 p.m. at Firefighters Memorial Park on Bacharach Boulevard.

“People who use drugs are residents of Atlantic City, family members, kids, children of residents, tourists. What message does it send that we’d rather have people die …then offer an essential public health service in the center of our city,” said Jenna Mellor, Executive Director of the New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition.

The rally comes two weeks after City Council introduced an ordinance in June that would repeal the 2007 ordinance that established the needle exchange program, the first of its kind in the state.

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City and state leaders have long debated the success and the location of the needle exchange despite studies showing that programs like this lead to lower rates of HIV infection, are cost effective and help reduce drug use and overdoses.

Atlantic City’s needle exchange is one of only seven in the state.

“A big message is that people who use drugs are not disposable,” Mellor said. “We’re here, we deserve services, we need services to survive and thrive. Really, these are essential public health services that Atlantic City needs and that every community throughout New Jersey needs, as well.”

Mellor said she understands the city’s desire to move the exchange out of the tourism district, but said that a proposed compromise to relocate to near the Atlantic City Rescue Mission was unexpectedly nixed. Mobile services, she said, are not enough.

A second reading on the ordinance by City Council is set for July 21.

Contact Claire Lowe:

609-272-7251

clowe@pressofac.com

Twitter @clairelowe

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Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. After seven years at The Current and Gazette newspapers, I joined The Press in 2015. I currently cover education.

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