Pubdate: Thu, 13 Aug 2009
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Times Colonist
Author: Kathleen Perkin


Needle exchanges do not cause public disorder, just as umbrellas don't
cause rain and sunglasses don't cause a heat wave. Drug use is
occurring regardless of whether there is a needle exchange. The
difference is that with adequate needle exchange services, the risk of
transmission of blood-borne diseases is reduced, our community is a
safer place, people have better access to services and thousands of
health-care dollars may be saved through prevention of HIV and
hepatitis C.

Having spent years working with intravenous drug users and
street-involved people in Victoria, the condescending way in which we
discuss whether they will have access to life-saving health service
disgusts me. The delay in setting up a needle exchange is an
unjustifiable burden on our most vulnerable citizens and a disgrace
for Victoria.

Equally disgraceful is the way in which the views of intravenous drug
users on potential locations for this service are dismissed while
other members of our community seem to have a veto. The term "junkies"
is not an acceptable way of referring to people. It is insulting,
stigmatizing and undermines the right of needle exchange users to
participate in the exchange discussion.

I say we look past our fears and raise our voices to demand that
needle exchange services be implemented properly and without delay.

Kathleen Perkin

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