After finally being established after years of state government opposition, New Jersey's three pilot needle-exchange programs are struggling to attract participants. Needle exchanges in Camden, Paterson, and Atlantic City have enrolled only about 200 total clients, primarily due to a lack of government funding that limits their outreach abilities, according to the Drug Policy Alliance of New Jersey.
Kim McCargo, who oversees the Camden exchange, said it would take $500,000 annually to run a program that could distribute clean needles three days a week at more than one location. The program receives only about $85,000 in grants, which limits it to operating just once a week.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 43% of New Jersey's HIV cases are linked to injection-drug use.