My oldest brother Adam, an IV drug user, died of complications from HIV/AIDs in 1996, when I was 14 years old. This disease is shrouded in unnecessary stigma and sufferring, yet it's 100% preventable and can be eliminated through education and prevention. I will go to the ends of the earth to spread the word.
Needle exchange programs allow people to exchange their used needles for an equal amount of clean ones.
* The National Institute of Health estimates that in the United States, between fifteen and twenty percent of injection drug users have HIV and at least seventy percent have Hepatitis C.
* There is compelling proof that it drastically reduces the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C as well as basic infections from self-injections, without increasing drug use.
* NEPs are not solely used by illegal injection drug users. Anyone injecting prescribed medications at home can also use needle exchange programs.
* According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in the United States around 1/5 of all new HIV infections and the vast majority of Hepatitis C infections are the result of injection drug use.
* Without needle exchange programs, most injection drug users will resort to sharing and re-using needles.
* Needle exchange program services also often include referrals to and information about treatment programs for illegal injection drug users that are ready to get help. They also give knowledgeable staff the opportunity to talk to users about how to make safer choices to maintain their health and the health of other users. All people, regardless of addiction, deserve compassion and the right to a healthy life.
The ban on federal funding has resulted in many NEPs being shut down nationwide, or operating solely on community fundraising or philanthropic contributions. The federal ban on funding is an incredible obstacle for one of the most effective strategies for preventing HIV transmission in adults.
I urge you to reinstate the federal funding of needle exchange programs nationwide. Clean needles save lives.