Pubdate: Thu, 17 Feb 2000
Source: Herald Sun (Australia)
Copyright: News Limited 2000
Author: Elaine Walters


NEEDLE exchange is another failed harm minimisation strategy.

Not only do we have a problem of inappropriate disposal of syringes, but
since the program started there is also a serious problem with hepatitis C

In 1998, the British Medical Journal reported a study of a group of drug
users attending a needle exchange in Sydney. This group showed an extremely
high conversion rate of hepatitis C infection, especially among those under

The problem was further exacerbated by the fact that 30 per cent of this
group admitted sharing injecting equipment.

The original reason for the exchange -- concern over HIV transmission -- is
no longer valid because these rates are extremely low, about 4 per cent.

These facts bring into question the need for the needle exchange program and
its effectiveness.

Needle exchange programs, injecting rooms and heroin trials do not receive
the support at the World Health Organisation or the UN Narcotic Control

So why is the Victorian Government being persuaded to spend millions of
dollars on dubious experiments?

Elaine Walters is chairwoman of the Drug Advisory Council Of Australia
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