Pubdate: Mon, 11 Jun 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: Stephen Heath


To the Editor:

Re "Congress Hobbles the AIDS Fight" (editorial, June

As a recovered drug abuser of crack and powder cocaine, I thank you
for this editorial stand.

Based on my experiences working in treatment and recovery, I humbly
submit that the notion that clean needle exchange programs are
enabling and encouraging drug use is nonsense.

But make no mistake, every user will eventually stop because perpetual
injection drug use is almost physically impossible.

While patiently working with those abusers aiming to quit, we benefit
as a community by reducing the peripheral and associated disease that
is passed by dirty or infected needles.

It's possible to overcome drug addiction. It's of course impossible to
overcome a case of H.I.V. and hepatitis C that's been received by use
of dirty needles. The drug abuser who was once clean, like you and me,
can be again -- provided he lives long enough.

Stephen Heath

Clearwater, Fla., June 5, 2007

The writer is the public relations director of the Drug Policy Forum
of Florida. 
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