Pubdate: Thu, 28 Oct 2004
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Kathleen Harris
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


PUBLIC SAFETY Minister Anne McLellan is open to the idea of
needle-swap programs to combat the spread of blood-borne diseases in
Canada's drug-infested prisons. Pressed yesterday by a lineup of
medical, legal and inmate support groups to establish a pilot needle
exchange within 18 months, McLellan said it's too soon to make a
decision. Correctional Service of Canada officials will work with the
federal public health agency to hammer out a proposal to tackle the
epidemic of HIV/AIDS and Hep C behind bars, she said.

"I think we have to deal in a world of realism in terms of our
penitentiaries and our prisons," she said. "There's no point sticking
one's head in the sand and saying there are not infections and
infections being spread in prisons by whatever means."

Sylvain Martel, president of the Union of Canadian Correctional
Officers, called needle exchange a "Band-Aid solution" that flies in
the face of CSC's zero-tolerance policy on drugs. But a CSC spokesman
said it would be "naive" to ignore the problem.
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