Allowing Needle Exchanges in North Carolina Could Help Reduce Spread of HIV Among Injection Drug Users, Editorial Says
The North Carolina General Assembly should approve a bill (HB 411) that would authorize needle-exchange programs in the state because there is a "mountain of research and a who's-who of health and law enforcement professionals" who say that the programs help to reduce the spread of HIV among injection drug users, a Greensboro News & Record editorial says (Greensboro News & Record, 5/8). State Rep. Thomas Wright (D) in March introduced the measure, which would establish needle-exchange programs in three undetermined counties, provide $550,000 annually for two years for the programs' operations expenses and evaluate the programs' effectiveness. Supporters of needle exchanges say the programs save lives by preventing the spread of bloodborne diseases and save money by eliminating the need to subsidize treatment once an individual contracts a disease. However, opponents of the programs say needle exchanges encourage drug users to continue using (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/21). "If people must use drugs," they should be able to "avoid the double jeopardy of drug addiction and AIDS," the editorial says. Although the "moral discomfort about needle exchanges is understandable," opponents of the programs should realize that drug users as well as their partners are at risk of contracting bloodborne diseases, the editorial says. In addition, needle-exchange programs would "foster increased contact between addicts and health professionals and create a greater likelihood for treatment," the editorial says, adding, "At the very least, the pilot programs are worth trying" (Greensboro News & Record, 5/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.