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Police union calls for end to needle exchange program

Javier Ortiz says officer was pricked by HIV-positive needle making an arrest

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MIAMI – A Miami police officer is taking a series of post-exposure drugs to prevent becoming infected with HIV after being pricked with a needle Friday while making an arrest.

The incident is raising questions about the city's needle exchange program and whether it's good for the community.

 According to Javier Ortiz, head of Miami's police union,said the officer in question stopped an HIV positive drug user, then got pricked by one of the user's needles.

"He's on a 28-day cocktail of HIV medication and he's being monitored," Ortiz said.

Ortiz is casting the blame on Miami’s needle exchange program near Northwest Seventh Avenue and Northwest 17th Street.

The controversial program allows drug users to exchange dirty needles for clean ones.

"If anything, it’s just motivating more people to use," Ortiz said.

Ortiz believes the program sends the wrong message.

"People are now camping out in that area in order to get the Narcan and what we're doing is, we're doing is pretty much, as a community we're supporting their habit.  We're saying it’s OK to do drugs," he said.

But Miami’s police chief has gone on record supporting the needle exchange program.

Advocates say it helps prevent the spread of disease.

"We're really proud of what they've accomplished. Already in six months they've already got 40 people that they work with into rehab programs, so if you support moving people towards a treatment and recovery path, a needle exchange program is actually your best ally," Daniel Raymond, of Harm Reduction Coalition, said.

Ortiz said the needle exchange program is just a Band Aid and he wants a long-term solution to the drug problem.

Needle exchange advocates say the program helps them get some drug users into rehab.