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Studies Find That Addicts Will Use Needle Exchange Programs


July 1994

Two studies published in January 12, 1994 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association suggest that drug addicts will readily accept programs to exchange used syringes for clean ones, thus reducing their risk of being infected with AIDS. (No byline, "2 Studies Back Idea That Addicts Will Trade in Their Drug Needles", New York Times, 1/17/94, A18). The studies are important because they were conducted in the United States, whereas most studies have been done in Europe. The lack of U.S. studies has enabled critics of needle exchange programs to argue that even though the programs may be effective in Europe, they would not be effective here because our problems are different.

Almost 40 needle exchange programs operate in the U.S. About one-third of the nation's AIDS cases have been diagnosed in intra-venous drug users, their sexual partners, or their children. (Don C. Des Jarlais, MD, "Continuity and Change Within an HIV Epidemic - Injecting Drug Users in NY City, 1984 Through 1992," 271 Journal of the American Medical Association, p. 121-127, Issue 2, Jan 12, 1994; John K. Watters, "Syringe and Needle Exchange as HIV AIDS Prevention For Injection Drug Users," 271 JAMA p. 115-120, Issue 2, Jan 12, 1994).