Needle-Exchange Program Targets IDUs in New MexicoNew Mexico AIDS Services is targeting injection drug users in the state through needle-exchange programs in an effort to curb the spread of HIV and other bloodborne diseases, the Farmington Daily Times reports. For the past three years, the Farmington branch of NMAS has provided clean needles to IDUs, as well as information about safe injection practices to participants enrolled in the program, the Daily Times reports.
Mark Lewis, case manager with NMAS' Farmington branch, said that participants receive an I.D. card allowing them to carry clean needles from the center legally. According to the Daily Times, the strategy shifts the focus away from incarceration to harm reduction, which focuses on IDUs' health. Lewis said the program's primary goal is not to end or encourage drug use but to help IDUs use needles more safely and become healthier. The program -- which followed the state's Harm Reduction Act of 1996 -- is cost effective, according to Jimmy Schrock, the men's health project and harm reduction coordinator for NMAS. He added that treatment for HIV and hepatitis C can cost more than $10,000 and $30,000 per person annually, respectively. Clean needles cost $200 annually for the average participant in the program, according to Schrock (Giusti, Farmington Daily Times, 4/20). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.