HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Needle Exchange Approved
Pubdate: Fri, 27 Apr 2007
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2007 San Antonio Express-News
Author: Gary Scharrer, Austin bureau
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


AUSTIN - Texans could save a lot of money if illegal drug users were
allowed to exchange clean needles, Sen. Bob Deuell said Thursday
before the Senate approved such a program.

Texas is the only state in the country that does not allow a needle
exchange program for drug users.

The Senate voted 22-7 for the measure, which has not cleared the

"It brings people in to get rehabilitated. It lessens the contaminated
needles in the drug-using community. It cuts down on diseases such as
HIV and hepatitis B and C," said Deuell, a physician and Republican
from Greenville. "And, in the long run, it will save the state money."

The bill did not trigger debate.

Treating one person with HIV costs taxpayers an estimated $385,000
over a lifetime, Deuell said. Contaminated needles are responsible for
half of all HIV cases and 40 percent of hepatitis C cases in Texas, he

"There is no good reason to continue to refuse what we know clearly
works," Deuell said.

A clean needle exchange program has resulted in many drug users
"getting off drugs because they went someplace where people cared and
got into a rehabilitation program before they caught a disease that
might kill them," he said.

Chances of the bill passing the House are unclear. Many people believe
a needle-exchange program encourages drug addicts, said Deuell, who
once shared that attitude. 
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