Pubdate: Wed, 28 Oct 1998
Date: 10/28/1998
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Author: Denise Haldane

I have just got off the telephone to an operator at Ansett to
compliment the company on its decision to install syringe disposal
units on its aircraft.

Much to my dismay I had been the only call of support. Some people had
gone as far as threatening to boycott the airline for making this
necessary move to protect not only us, its prospective passengers, but
also its employees.

I never cease to be amazed at the one-track mind that some people get
set into when it comes to issues such as this. I'm afraid the media
doesn't help matters much by focusing solely on the intravenous drug

As a one-time intravenous drug user, I can assure you I would not
think twice about "hitting up" anywhere I needed to, regardless of
whether there was a needle disposal unit available or not. I promise
you that the lack of available disposable units in public places over
all those years did not deter me from taking drugs, and the new
availability of such units does not make me want to use drugs again.

As 80 per cent of regular intravenous drug users are hepatitis C
positive, and as this virus can live for a long time in the right
conditions, Ansett (as an employer) has the right and obligation to
protect its staff from the very real possibility of a needle-stick

Also, intravenous drug use is not the sole purpose of such disposal
units. Diabetics and others reliant on medications need to be able to
administer to themselves in a safe and private atmosphere, whether
that is an aircraft, restaurant or a public toilet.

For too long such people have paid a heavy cost because of the lack of
foresight from people who think they're doing the right thing, but who
have absolutely no idea about the reality of living in a world where
all the harm from syringe disposal, needle-stick injury, blood-borne
viruses and litigation are absolute.

I commend Ansett for taking this stance and recommend to everyone that
if a huge company is willing to install these disposal units, it does
so with your health and wellbeing in mind.

I ask that people stop getting hoodwinked by hysterical media reports
and begin to look at the big picture.

Denise Haldane,