Excerpts from the article:
"Recognizing that HIV and hepatitis were both spreading at alarming rates among injecting drug users (IDUs), public health officials in both the Netherlands and Australia began experimenting in the mid- 1980s with programs to supply addicts with clean needles in exchange for their used ones. The immediate and obvious success of these programs in reducing the incidence of both diseases—the rates quickly dropped as much as one third— led authorities in Canada and numerous European, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American countries to follow suit. In some locales, sterile syringes can be exchanged at pharmacies, police stations, and even from specially designed vending machines. At St. Vincent's Hospital, in Sydney, nuns operate the exchange. Even the hyper-conservative mullahs in Iran have approved of syringe exchange as an acceptable way to fight an HIV/AIDS epidemic spread mainly by drug users."
"Even more striking, at the November 2010 Harm Reduction Conference in Austin, Texas, Dr. Don Des Jarlais, Professor of Epidemiology at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine, reported that the incidence of new HIV infections among IDUs in in New York City has dropped to under one percent per year. "We appear," he said, "to be very close to eliminating injecting-related transmissions in a city with over 100,000 injecting drug users."
"No one seriously any longer seriously disputes the health and financial benefits of SEPs. In 2009, Congress finally removed its long-standing ban on using federal funds to support such programs. State laws vary, but 36 states have syringe- exchange programs and 13 others make other provisions for IDUs to obtain sterile needles. Only Texas still flatly prohibits the purchase or possession of syringes for the purpose of injecting illegal drugs, and that prohibition may not survive the state's 2011 session of its legislature."
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