Pubdate: Wed, 10 Sep 2008
Source: Greensboro News & Record (NC)
Copyright: 2008 Greensboro News & Record, Inc.
Author: Louise Vincent


Regarding "Lifesaving needles" (article, Aug. 25), the need for
multifaceted strategies to help slow the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C
are not exclusive to Washington, D.C.

Right here in the Triad there are at least 5,981 injection drug users
who desperately need syringe-exchange programs to help protect them
from infectious disease. The reality of disease and drug addiction
requires that we implement any and all public health interventions
known to be effective. Drug treatment is only one piece of the puzzle.

Addiction exists, like it or not, and, unfortunately, the No. 1
outcome of drug treatment is relapse, not because professionals are
not trying but because addiction is a complex disease.

In a time where we have a failing mental health system and inadequate
treatment beds, syringe exchange programs have been proven to slow the
spread of infectious diseases.

N.C. Health Director Leah Devlin says, "I believe clean syringe
programs could not only work in our state to reduce disease, but would
also decrease the use of injectable drugs among drug users. We would
be able to refer hard-to-reach drug users into counseling and
treatment." If the state health director believes in syringe exchange
programs, why don't we?

Louise Vincent


The author is the program director, N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition, 
which works to reduce blood-borne illnesses in the state.
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