Pubdate: Wed, 14 May 2008
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Times Colonist
Author: David Turner


It has long been well-recognized that needle exchanges save money for 
the health system and save lives. In March 1997, a National 
Institutes of Health report concluded that needle-exchange programs 
"show a reduction in risk behaviours as high as 80 per cent in 
injecting drug users, with estimates of a 30 per cent or greater 
reduction of HIV." The panel also concluded that the preponderance of 
evidence shows either a decrease in injection drug use among 
participants or no changes in their current levels of drug use. Some 
studies show the presence of support staff can be a key component, 
something that would be limited in a mobile needle-exchange unit.

Yet here we are, with two weeks to go, and the Vancouver Island 
Health Authority is not accepting its responsibility to help AIDS 
Vancouver Island find an alternate site for this essential health service.

Would we deny addicted smokers access to nicotine-free cigarettes, 
children access to vaccinations or sexually active people access to 
condoms? Not in today's world. So why do we deny drug users access to 
clean needles which reduces the transmission of serious diseases?

Thumbs down to VIHA for its lack of consultation, to council for its 
lack of leadership and to our community for its intolerant attitudes. 
I understand the street situation outside the location on Cormorant 
Street is now under control. Why not let the needle exchange move to 
the Pandora site immediately on a trial basis?

David Turner

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