Pubdate: Tue, 23 Jul 2002
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2002 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Steffanie A. Strathdee and David Vlahov
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


We are writing in response to the article "N.J. senator to fight state's 
needle plan" (Nation, Friday). The article states that N.J. state Sen. 
Gerald Cardinale plans to use data from our research study in his bid to 
oppose the initiation of a needle-exchange program in New Jersey. We 
strongly oppose this misuse of our study.

Research from our group at Johns Hopkins suggests that sexual behavior is 
an important risk factor for HIV infection among drug users, but in no way 
suggests that prevention programs such as needle exchange are unnecessary 
or ineffective. In fact, we and other researchers have shown that use of 
needle-exchange programs is associated with lower rates of HIV infection 
and needle sharing, greater admissions to drug- abuse treatment programs, 
fewer discarded needles on the street and no increase in crime.

In the absence of a needle-exchange program in Baltimore, the role of 
needle sharing in spreading HIV among drug users would likely have been far 

In our view, needle-exchange programs should be supported fully at the 
federal, state and city levels. These programs not only reduce the spread 
of HIV and viral hepatitis among persons who cannot or will not stop 
injecting, but they represent ideal venues to distribute condoms, offer STD 
screenings and diagnoses and make referrals to medical and drug-abuse 

Steffanie A. Strathdee,Associate Professor

Bloomberg School of Public Health

Johns Hopkins University


David Vlahov, Director

Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies

New York Academy of Medicine

New York
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