Citing safety concerns, the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod dropped its plans to open an office with a needle exchange at 178 East Falmouth Highway.
“We anticipated that our syringe-access program would be met with some resistance in the town,” AIDS Support Group CEO Joe Carleo wrote in a statement on January 17.
“We believed that we could have a discussion that would appeal to people’s better nature and work collaboratively to stem the tide of this crisis. Unfortunately, the announcement of our site unleashed a type of anger, hatred and tumultuous behavior that we believe has made the current site unsafe for our clients, staff and other participants.”
The group planned on opening an office with a needle exchange across from St. Anthony’s Church. The location was opposed by a number of Falmouth residents, who spoke out against the needle exchange at Falmouth Board of Selectmen and Board of Health meetings.
While the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod is not moving forward with the 178 East Falmouth Highway location, the organization plans to open an office somewhere else in Falmouth.
“As for the new site, we will work together with state Representative David Vieira, as well as other town officials, to find a site that will fit the needs of our clients and the Falmouth community,” Mr. Carleo said.
He said the change in plans was not a response to Rep. Vieira filing legislation requiring needle-exchange programs to receive approval from local boards of health at a publicly posted meeting.
“As for the legislation Representative Vieira filed [January 17], we are troubled [that] the proposal’s language, as currently written, might have the unintended consequence of reversing all the progress that has been made in saving lives to date,” Mr. Carleo said.
He argued there is a need for this service in Falmouth.
“Throughout the controversy surrounding [the] AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod opening a harm-reduction site with syringe-access services in East Falmouth, nearly everyone involved acknowledged there is an opioid crisis in their town,” Mr. Carleo wrote.
“One individual went so far at a recent board of selectmen meeting to say that Falmouth is ‘saturated with opioid addicts.’ AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod is expanding its services in Falmouth to save lives and prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.”