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Health Emergency Report Released


December 1995

A new study of AIDS transmission rates among drug users finds that the virus is spreading more quickly among minorities than among whites (Health Emergency: The Spread of Drug-Related AIDS Among African-Americans, October 1995).

The report finds that African-American injecting drug users are five times more likely than white injecting drug users to be diagnosed with AIDS. The report was written by Dr. Dawn Day of the New Jersey-based Dogwood Center. An article on drug arrests by Dr. Day was printed in the April 1995 issue of NewsBriefs (see "Drug Arrests: Are Blacks Being Targeted?" NewsBriefs, April 1995).

Dr. Joycelyn Elders announced the release of the report at the Ninth International Drug Policy Foundation conference in Santa Monica, CA.

The report finds that by the end of 1994, more than 73,400 African-Americans were infected with AIDS from drug use or had died from drug-related AIDS. AIDS is the number-one killer of African American males 25-44, and over one-half of those deaths were tied to drug use.

The number of new drug-related AIDS cases among African-Americans in 1994 was twice the number for whites (14,400 vs. 7,200), even though many more whites than blacks are injecting drug users (320,000 vs. 133,000).

The rate of AIDS among Latino injecting drug users was twice the rate for whites in 1994 (71/1000 vs. 22/1000).

The 24-page report recommends changing public policies that now prohibit non-prescription possession of sterile needles, non-prescription sales of syringes in drug stores, and funding of needle exchange programs.

The report was co-sponsored by The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (which coordinates the National Drug Strategy Network and publishes NewsBriefs), Common Sense for Drug Policy, the Dogwood Center, the Drug Policy Foundation, the Harm Reduction Coalition, and the Lindesmith Center.

[To obtain a copy of this report, contact the Drug Policy Foundation at 4455 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite B-500, Washington, DC 20008-2302, 202-537-5005. The report costs $5 with postage. See the story on needle exchange in New Jersey.]