Pubdate: Wed, 07 Aug 2002
Source: Tribune Review (PA)
Copyright: 2002 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: This is Robert's 711th published letter that we know of. See


The July 25 editorial "The bigger dope" asks whether needle-exchange 
programs help reduce the spread of HIV. You did your readers a disservice 
by quoting New Jersey Sen. Gerald Cardinale.

Time and time again tough-on-drugs politicians have proven themselves 
untrustworthy when it comes to providing accurate information on drugs. 
Cardinale is a prime example. His misuse of the results of a Johns Hopkins 
University study to justify shutting down needle exchanges prompted the 
researchers to write to The Washington Times.

According to the researchers, "(R)esearch 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."

Do you want to know whether harm-reduction interventions are effective? Ask 
a doctor, not a politician. Tough-on-drugs politicians have built careers 
on confusing drug prohibition's collateral damage with drugs themselves. 
Admitting the drug war is causing tremendous societal harm would deprive 
these so-called leaders of the ability to literally scare up votes by 
manipulating drug hysteria.

It's time to end the failed war on some drugs and begin treating all 
substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public health problem it is.

Robert Sharpe, Arlington, Va.

The writer is program officer for the Drug Policy Alliance in Washington, D.C
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