Pubdate: Fri, 06 Aug 1999
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 1999 The Washington Post Company
Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071
Section: page B03


Baltimore health officials hailed the success of the five-year-old needle
exchange program yesterday, crediting it for a dramatic reduction in the
spread of HIV among intravenous drug users.

The program has enrolled more than 9,000 regular clients, exchanged 2.5
million used needles for clean ones and steered more than 1,000 users into
drug treatment programs. City Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson said HIV
incidence among needle exchange clients is 70 percent lower than among
Baltimore injection drug users who do not participate, meaning the program
has prevented 300 HIV cases.

He figures that the $1.2 million invested in needle exchange has saved $30
million that would have been spent caring for patients.

Beilenson said members of Congress who have barred the District from
spending public money on needle exchange are ignoring scientific data. "I
don't understand how anybody can still be opposing this," he said. "It's
completely political." 
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