NEEDLE EXCHANGE PROGRAMS PROGRAMS SUPPORTED TO SLOW SPREAD OF HIV Copyright (c) 1997, Information Access Company, a Thomson Corporation Company; IAC(SM) Industry Express(SM); AIDS Weekly Plus; March 3, 1997 The San Francisco AIDS Foundation, California, has renewed the call for local, state, and federal government support of needle exchange programs.The San Francisco AIDS Foundation HIV Prevention Project has provided streetbased needle and syringe exchange services to injection drug users since November 1988. The program started as an allvolunteer effort and has expanded to ten sites throughout San Francisco. It exchanges more than two million sterile needles a year through 50,000 client contacts. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) consensus report cites needle exchange as a vital and highly effective strategy in AIDS prevention. " Needle exchange is one of the most costeffective means of reaching extremely disenfranchised individuals at highest risk for HIV. Simply put, needle exchange saves lives," said Pat Christen, San Francisco AIDS Foundation. "The program in San Francisco is an absolutely essential component of the AIDS prevention and service delivery model in the city. Needle exchange is largely responsible for the relatively low rates of HIV infection among injection drug users and their partners in San Francisco. Needle exchange is also an important component in reducing the incidence of pediatric AIDS. There were no pediatric cases of AIDS in San Francisco reported in 1995 or 1996." The report states that needle exchange causes an estimated 30 percent or greater reduction of HIV in injection drug users; that needle exchange does not increase drug use; that individuals in areas with needle exchange programs have increased likelihood of entering drug treatment programs; that needle exchange does not encourage nondrug users, particularly youth, to use drugs; and that there is no increase in used needles discarded in public spaces.