Needle exchange: An effective strategy to prevent disease transmission without increasing drug usage.

Essay by earldriscollUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, May 2005

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Running head: NEEDLE EXCHANGE: AN EFFECTIVE STRATEGY

Needle exchange: An effective strategy to prevent disease transmission without increasing drug usage

Earl Driscoll

Community College of Philadelphia

English 102

Professor Douglas Hohen

May 1, 2005

Abstract

Needle exchange saves lives. Every life is worth saving. Needle exchange is controversial due to questions about efficacy as well as the fear that needle exchange encourages drug usage. The individuals who needle exchange targets are marginalized members of society and as such are viewed by some as disposable; not deserving of the life saving intervention of needle exchange. This paper will look at the literature, research, current opinions, an opinion survey, and include an interview with a staff member of a needle exchange program [NEP].

Needle exchange: An effective strategy to prevent disease transmission without increasing drug usage

Introduction

Needle exchange is a strategy to reduce the spread of bloodborne disease by providing injection drug users (IDU) with sterile syringes in exchange for used contaminated syringes.

According to Cothran (2001):

Based on the assessment that it is impossible to eliminate completely intravenous drug use in society, needle exchanges were first instituted in Amsterdam in 1983 to prevent the transmission of hepatitis B and H.I.V. (human immunodeficiency virus, the causative agent of AIDS), which can occur when needles are shared. (p. 42)

Needle exchange is a strategy of harm reduction. According to Hilton, Thompson, Moore-Dempsey, and Janzen (2001):

Harm reduction does not seek to eliminate drug use; it focuses on minimizing the personal and social harms and costs associated with drug use and spread of HIV. It seeks to ameliorate conditions surrounding drug use responsible for the spread of HIV in the IDU community: unequal access to health services; sharing of infected needles; racial and social discrimination; poverty; exposure to street violence; inadequate housing; lack...



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