Pubdate: Sun, 20 Aug 2000
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2000, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Steve Madely,  The date above is what appears on the newspaper website. We are not 
sure if the column has been posted to the website pending publication on 
that date, or if the date is in error.


There is no more perfect example of permissiveness rum amok, than the
needle and condom distribution programs aimed at preventing the spread
of AIDS.

An excellent expose in the current edition of CFRA Colleague Lowell
Green's Canada First newsletter spells out the scandalous results of
government funded needle exchange programs (NEP's) in Ottawa,
Vancouver and Montreal.

The common denominator in study after study of HIV infection rates, is
that contrary to the intent, the programs are at best showing no
beneficial results, and at the worst may actually be helping to spread
the disease and increase drug abuse.

No specific statistics are available to compare HIV infection rates
amongst Ottawa-Carleton's intravenous drug addict population before
and after the local needle exchange program was introduced in 1991.
But, we do know this much: The HIV infection rate for needle exchange
users in this city is currently 20%, almost as high as

By extrapolation, it's a safe assumption that infection rates here
have increased, just as they have in other major cities where NEPs are
in effect.

The Vancouver program has kept careful records on HIV rates and the
numbers are startling! With the largest needle exchange program in the
world the B.C. city, which is Canada's acknowledged heroin drug
capital, has seen a tenfold increase in infection rates amongst NEP
users. When the program began in 1988, HIV prevalence for Vancouver's
intravenous drug users was 2%. Today, despite a program which
distributes a mind numbing 2.8 million free IV needles per year to the
city's notorious addict population, the HIV rate amongst NEP users
surpasses 23%! Why are rates increasing? Perhaps because the theory
that drug addicts would abandon the sharing of contaminated needles
when supplied with free fresh needles is dead wrong! The theory has
been shattered by reality. A reality advocates of the programs are
unwilling to accept.

An exhaustive Montreal study, published in the American Journal of
Epidemiology, found that 75% of needle exchange program clients
continue to share needles, roughly the same percentage as

What's worse is the McGill University finding that 33% of NEP clients
became infected during the study period compared to 13% of

"In other words," the newsletter reports "addicts who used the
Montreal needle exchange were more than twice as likely to become
infected with HIV as those who did not take part in the program."
Programs intended to reduce the rate of HIV and AIDS infection are
clearly not working and the more frightening likelihood, based on the
figures, is that they may be having the exactly opposite effect.

Should anyone be surprised at the results of this permissiveness?
Despite consistent predictions from most sex educators and public
health authorities that free distribution of condoms in Canadian high
schools would reduce the incidence of unprotected sex, every reliable
study of teenaged sexual practices shows otherwise. They have been
proven wrong, yet we continue to rely on their programs and

Kids are starting to have sex at a younger age. More teens are
admitting to unprotected sexual practices than ever before. Yet we
seem resigned to the notion -- locked in the mindset -- that the
solution lies in handing out even more free condoms, preferably in
kinky colours and flavours.

In the prison system, where quite incredibly officialdom now hands out
needles, bleach and condoms rather than enforcing regulations and
laws, diseases spread by needle sharing and unsafe sexual practices
are rampant.

The officials who advocated these programs have a record of failure to
show for their efforts, yet we are allowing them to implement even
more of the same.

Meanwhile, in the dark world of drug addiction the misguided experts
who gave us needle exchange programs now rule unchallenged. Their
solution -- the path of least resistance -- falls right in line with a
new social mentality that says, on moral issues, we'd rather surrender
than fight.

Instead of forcing addicts into treatment programs, we have sold out
to the insane notion that ready availability of free clean needles
will somehow turn addicts into health fanatics. Zapped, but healthy.
What lunacy! 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake