Pubdate: Mon, 15 Jan 2001
Source: Alameda Times-Star (CA)
Copyright: 2001 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Contact:  P.O. Box 28884 ,Oakland, CA 94612
Fax: (510) 208-6477
Author: Bill Piper


MY HEART and prayers go out to the noble workers at Casa Segura and the 
people who they serve.

The deliberate destruction of their offices will be a hard crisis to 
overcome, but I hope that the community can come together to rebuild and 
continue the important work that they do.

The value of needle exchange programs in preventing the spread of AIDS and 
hepatitis, reducing drug abuse, and saving lives can't be overstated.

Every established medical, scientific and legal body to study the issue 
concurs that needle exchange programs save lives without encouraging 
illegal drug use -- including the National Academy of Sciences, the 
American Medical Association, the American Bar Association, the U.S. 
Conference of Mayors, the American Public Health Association, the Center 
for Disease Control and Prevention, and both President Bush's and President 
Clinton's AIDS Advisory Commissions.

It's a sad commentary on our current political environment that the bigotry 
towards those suffering from drug addiction has now led to attacks against 
those trying to save lives.

Unless politicians stop demonizing drug users and start promoting policies 
that deal with the issue of drug abuse in a more compassionate and rational 
way, we can expect such bigotry to fuel more fires.

Bill Piper, Associate Director, Public Policy and Legislative Affairs, The 
Lindesmith Center Drug Policy Foundation, Washington, D.C.
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