Pubdate: Sat, 26 May 2001
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2001 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Mark Kal
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


The article ("Used needles scare off cleanup crew," May 22) leads the 
reader to believe needle exchanges increase the number of needles found in 
our neighbourhood streets and parks.

The programs do not "give" 20 needles to clients -- 20 is the maximum 
allowed. Most needles are exchanged on a one-for-one basis and in smaller 
numbers. The service also provides special containers which destroy used 
needles and insulate them from the public. Several studies have also proved 
that needle exchanges do not increase the number of publicly discarded 
needles nor do they in any way promote drug use.

Angela Ierullo is a well known and vocal opponent of the city's needle 
exchange programs. While she is entitled to her opinion, despite a good 
body of evidence against it, what I find most disturbing is her use of 
children to promote her cause and gain publicity.

If we can reduce the spread of infectious diseases among drug users we will 
reduce the number of contaminated needles that may prick our youngsters. 
The leading cause of childhood HIV infection is from infected mothers. The 
leading cause of HIV in women is IV drug use (their own use and/or that of 
a sexual partner). Add those two together and if you're really concerned 
about children you will support needle exchanges.

Is needle exchange the perfect solution? Of course not. But at the moment, 
it is our most powerful tool in reducing the spread of HIV, hepatitis, and 
other terrible diseases. Drug use isn't all about slums and Hollywood 
excess, it's in average middle class communities. It only takes one 
teenaged act of rebellion or a momentary lapse in judgment to get a 
devastating and possibly fatal illness. If someone I know and love makes 
that mistake, I'd like to know it won't carry life-long consequences.

Don't bury your head in the sand. Drugs are already in your community.

Mark Kal,

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