Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jun 2006
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2006 The Sacramento Bee
Note: Does not publish letters from outside its circulation area.
Author: Glenn Backes


The June 4 article "Recovering addict's new test: Hepatitis C"
illustrated a common tragedy. Someone struggles to beat addiction,
only to learn that he might die of a preventable infection caused by
syringe sharing.

Why do addicts share syringes? Because in some places, syringe
purchase remains illegal. Why do they throw them away rather than keep
one for themselves only? Because to possess one puts them at risk of

Most states amended their laws in the 1980s and '90s, when it became
clear that syringe scarcity did not reduce drug use, but facilitated
the spread of AIDS and hepatitis among drug users, their sexual
partners and newborn children.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed two reforms to empower local
governments to fight AIDS and hepatitis. Yuba and Yolo counties have
authorized pharmacies to sell syringes to adults. This is a no-cost
approach to controlling disease. Unfortunately, Sacramento Supervisors
Don Nottoli, Roberta MacGlashan and Susan Peters didn't show the
compassion and fiscal good sense of their colleagues when they voted
against pharmacy access.

It's incumbent now on city governments to authorize programs proven to
slow the spread of deadly diseases and get people into drug treatment.

Glenn Backes, Sacramento
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