Source: Illawarra Mercury (Australia)
Copyright: Illawarra Newspapers
Pubdate: 5 Jan 1998
Page: 18
Author: Henry Collier


The Sydney Morning Herald (December 27) opinion by Peter Baume "Needle ban
poses threat" reports the Government intends to withdraw some of the "free
needles" supply.

Given how these needles (large capacity) are used by the intravenous drug
using communities, it is virtually certain that needle sharing and
resulting HIV infection rates will rise. Nothing will be accomplished in
reducing the use of "illegal" drugs.

Even from an economic perspective this policy change is incredibly
ignorant. How much do the needles cost? How much does one additional HIV
transmission cost? In terms of dollars the results are fairly obvious.

The cost of treating one HIV infection is far greater than the total cost
of supplying these syringes and needles to the intravenous drug using

What we have done in terms of HIV education and prevention in NSW is
remarkable. If we uncork the bottle and let the virus escape, we are
incredibly stupid. In terms of human costs it is obvious.

We CAN prevent HIV infections with a sane and sound clean-needle policy. We
cannot allow the radical right to stop what is perhaps the only rational
preventative strategy against HIV transmission in the intravenous drug
using population.

Does the Government hate everyone so much that they would even think about
doing this? There is not one chance that the current policy can succeed.
The latest crisis in confidence in our elected Government indicates that we
have to push harder to tell the electorate what is really going on. There
is no turning back to the '50s. Everything we've worked for will be destroyed.

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MAP posted-by: Mike Gogulski