AIDS Foundation of Chicago

Clinton administration announced that, although a number of scientific studies confirmed the efficacy of needle exchange programs for preventing the spread of HIV, that the administration would not overturn the law and could not support such programs. Despite the position of the then-Government, needle exchange programs at pharmacies in most American states were initiated during this Governance. Since then, George W. Bush has stated that, “I do not favor needle exchange programs and other so called “harm reduction” strategies to combat drug use.

I support a comprehensive mix of prevention, education, treatment … and supply interdiction … not misguided attempts to weaken drug laws” (Bush, 2000). The American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association have lobbied the Government, urging the Bush administration to understand that harm reduction policies are not an attempt to condone illegal behaviour, but rather are an acknowledgement that drug use exists in society and represents a significant economic and public health burden (Dolan, MacDonald, Silins, & Topp, 2005).

Needle exchange programs are social policies that recognize the existence of illicit drug use within the American population and which aim to reduce the harm intravenous drug users endure as a result of their addiction. Numerous scientific studies exist to support the benefit of the harm reduction approach. It has been clearly demonstrated that needle exchange programs have reduced the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases. Such programs improve the likelihood that addicted individuals will come into early contact with health and social services.

Despite the weight of evidence, certain factions within society believe that needle exchange programs contribute to the growth of intravenous drug use in America and that the programs represent a weakening of U. S. drug laws. The U. S. Government recognizes the efficacy of needle exchange programs, but does not support their implementation. Personal reaction Despite intravenous drug use and the possession of needles or syringes without prescription being illegal in the United States, more than 1.

4 million people regularly engage in this practice. Approximately 19,000 new cases of HIV occur annually. In 2002, new HIV infections were estimated to have cost the country $6. 7 billion dollars in direct medical expenditure and $29. 7 billion in lost productivity (Hutchinson et al. , 2006). Implementing harm reduction strategies such as needle exchanges are proven to curb the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases and therefore, can reduce the economic burden of disease on the United States.

Issues of social justice and public health notwithstanding, reduction of financial strain on the American people are the fundamental reasons that I support needle exchange programs.


Bush, G. W. (2000). Response of Governor George W. Bush to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago Retrieved 05/04/2007 from http://www. dogwoodcenter. org/ban/10ban. html. Dolan, K. , MacDonald, M. , Silins, E. , & Topp, L. (2005). Needle and syringe programs: a review of the evidence. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

Key Issue: The vast majority of the people infected with HIV and has AIDS do not live in developed countries and do not have an access to therapies. Local governments cannot afford vast reimbursements of health care products and that …

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