Pubdate: Sun, 03 Mar 2002
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2002 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Author: Don C. Des Jarlais
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


Roland Foster's Feb. 25 letter criticizing the Hawai'i syringe- exchange 
program is inaccurate and unfortunate.

The Department of Health collects data from persons who seek HIV testing 
from the department and affiliated community-based organizations. The 
percentage of positive tests among drug injectors has been declining over 
the last decade, and was zero in 2001. This clearly indicates a low rate of 
new HIV infections.

The number of syringes exchanged by the program increased from 219,218 in 
2000 to 347,793 in 2001. This was not because a large number of new 
injectors suddenly came into the program. New injectors tend to be in their 
late teens or early 20s, while the exchange participants have an average 
age of over 40.

With its comprehensive HIV prevention programs for drug users - including 
drug treatment, community outreach and syringe exchange - Hawai'i is a 
model for other states and for the many countries throughout the world 
where HIV is spreading among drug users.

Don C. Des Jarlais Beth Israel Medical Center, New York
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