Pubdate: Wed, 27 Feb 2002
Source: Intelligencer Journal (PA)
Address: P.O. Box 1328, Lancaster, PA 17608-1328
Contact:  2002 Lancaster Newspapers, Inc
Author: Robert Field


Dear Sir:

Your editorial "Straight talk" properly defends Secretary of State Colin 
Powell for stating that sexually active young people should use condoms for 
protection against the deadly AIDS virus. The federal government also 
advocates syringe exchanges and methadone treatment.

Lancaster County has one of the highest HIV / AIDS and heroin addiction 
rates in the State.  We also experience a tragic number of overdose deaths.

The immediate cause of overdosing (deaths) isn't the drugs, since there is 
approximately a three-hour window of opportunity to obtain treatment before 
death occurs.  Rather young people die because their friends are afraid to 
seek medical assistance for fear of arrest and spending years in prison!

To protect our loved ones, we should declare the emergency ward of every 
hospital an arrest free zone and instruct hospital personnel to only ask 
questions relevant to treatment.

It is also important that families and friends of addicts have access to 
professional advice on how to best cope with this very complex and trying 
situation.  Andrew Byrne, an Australian physician specializing in addiction 
treatment, has written an informative and readily comprehensible book that 
can be both read and downloaded at

HIV/ AIDS and hepatitis are the greatest public health problems of our 
times. I believe it is both our moral and religious obligation to recognize 
reality and pursue practical ways to reduce harm to drug abusers and to 
safeguard the general public.

Robert E. Field

Co-Chair, Common Sense for Drug Policy
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