Getting The Point In New Haven

The city's clean needle program has cut the spread of AIDS. Now other towns are seeing the light

THE VAN, PAINTED WITH VIVID stripes and a rising sun, plies the drearier streets of New Haven, Conn., drawing eager throngs like some dark version of the Good Humor truck. Four times a week, the "dope fiends," as they call themselves, line up to enter the vehicle. They identify themselves to city workers by their code names ("Carol Burnett," "Streetcat," "Wizard") and, in exchange for used needles, receive survival kits: bottles of bleach, bottles of water, clean needles, and condoms. They do this because they are terrified of the epidemic that is raging through their city. "Just because I shoot drugs...

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