Lifting Federal Ban On Needle-Exchange Programs Will Help Fight HIV/AIDS

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Needle-Exchange Programs

AlthoughBaltimore's needle-exchange program has provided "numerous benefits"to the community, the program is "falling short" of what is needed inpart because of the federal ban on funding for needle-exchange programs, SusanSherman, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Schoolof Public Healthand an adviser to Baltimore's needle-exchange program, writes in a Baltimore Sun letter to the editor.

"Time and again," research in Baltimoreand other cities has shown that involvement in needle-exchange programs canreduce HIV incidence among injection drug users and raise rates of entry intodrug treatment, according to Sherman.Baltimore's program exchanges syringes and provides other services, such asHIV/AIDS testing, and pays for hundreds to go to drug treatment annually,Sherman writes.

In a city with an HIV epidemic "predominantly fueled byinjection drug use," lifting the federal ban "could help us scale upour services and enhance our ability to reach the thousands" of IDUs inBaltimore who do not have access to needle exchange or other needed services,Sherman concludes (Sherman, Baltimore Sun, 1/13).

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