Friday, February 27, 2009

Harris County Officials Discuss Syringe Access Legislation

Officials representing the Harris County Commissioners' Court, Houston City Council, Houston Police Department, Harris County Hospital District, Harris County criminal courts, HIV service providers, and state level elected officials attended a luncheon yesterday at the United Way of Greater Houston to learn and share the latest information about syringe access programs and the pending Texas legislation.

Dr. William Martin, Senior Fellow for Drug Policy at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, and Randall Ellis, Senior Director for Government Relations at Legacy Community Health Services, each made excellent presentations. Attendees were able to ask questions and share the latest information and insights from their perspective.

Dr. Martin had some in tears as he gave us a metaphor for the current syringe access situation in Texas (it is currently a crime punishable by incarceration to give a drug user a clean syringe in Texas) through a story of two neighbors who met in Heaven:
One neighbor in Heaven said to the other: "You mean you knew about Him the whole time we lived next to one another but you never mentioned Him to me?"

Imagine yourself working in a health care facility, he said, and you are approached by an injection drug user who has contracted AIDS by using a dirty needle. The dying person looks into your eyes and says, "You mean you knew a simple way to prevent the spread of this disease that is killing me, and you never mentioned it to me?"
Distributing a clean needle to an injection drug user and offering her a bridge to recovery costs about 7 cents. Learn more here.

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