Lifting Federal Ban on Needle-Exchange Programs Will Help Fight HIV/AIDS in Baltimore, Letter to Editor Says
Although Baltimore's needle-exchange program has provided "numerous benefits" to the community, the program is "falling short" of what is needed in part because of the federal ban on funding for needle-exchange programs, Susan Sherman, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and an adviser to Baltimore's needle-exchange program, writes in a Baltimore Sun letter to the editor.
"Time and again," research in Baltimore and other cities has shown that involvement in needle-exchange programs can reduce HIV incidence among injection drug users and raise rates of entry into drug treatment, according to Sherman. Baltimore's program exchanges syringes and provides other services, such as HIV/AIDS testing, and pays for hundreds to go to drug treatment annually, Sherman writes. In a city with an HIV epidemic "predominantly fueled by injection drug use," lifting the federal ban "could help us scale up our services and enhance our ability to reach the thousands" of IDUs in Baltimore who do not have access to needle exchange or other needed services, Sherman concludes (Sherman, Baltimore Sun, 1/13).