Newsbrief: Sweden's Drug Head Calls for Needle Exchange Programs Across Country 3/7/03

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For nearly 20 years, intravenous drug users in two Swedish cities -- Lund and Malmo -- have been offered free, clean needles in exchange for used ones, as well as HIV/AIDS tests, hepatitis vaccinations and counseling. Now the man who presides over one of Europe's most repressive national drug control regimes has called for that program to be extended nationwide.

After reviewing the decades-old pilot programs, Swedish drug head Bjrn Fries recommended Tuesday that the national health care system begin offering free syringes to IV drug users as part of the effort to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. "The syringe exchange program has been controversial ever since it started," Fries acknowledged in a press conference, but added that needle exchanges' potential for reducing infection and the need to keep health contact with the drug-using population meant the programs should be made available to all IV drug users. Fries also said the programs should operate only under certain conditions. Drug users should be offered detoxification and drug treatment, as well as HIV/AIDS testing and counseling. The long-term goal, said Fries, was to move IV drug users toward a life without drugs.

The Swedish government will now consider Fries' recommendation, Reuters reported. Among the issues it will consider is how to finance national implementation of needle exchange programs.

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Issue #277, 3/7/03 50 Years for Stealing Videotapes? No Problem, Say Justices -- Supreme Court Upholds California Three-Strikes Law | Medical Marijuana Update: Bill Killed in New Mexico, New Ones Introduced in New York and Rhode Island | Australia: NSW Green Party Drug Platform in Tabloid Exposé Furor as Election Looms | "Seeds of Peace" Released in Brussels as Prelude to Vienna UN Conference | Medical Marijuana Supporters Demonstrate at Fundraiser for Presidential Candidate Howard Dean | Alert: HEA Reform Legislation Re-filed, Needs Your Support | Newsbrief: Swiss Lawmakers Give Okay to Continued Prescription Heroin | Newsbrief: Sweden's Drug Head Calls for Needle Exchange Programs Across Country | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Oxycontin Not So Deadly, Researchers Find | Newsbrief: California Highway Patrol Settles Racial Profiling Lawsuit | Kansas Legislators Consider "Treatment Not Jail" Bill | Newsbrief: In Surprise Move, Judge Changes Mind, Declines to Jail Oakland Cannabis Co-op Head | Newsbrief: Two Suicides Enough for One Pot Bust, Says Wisconsin Judge, Orders Probation for Son of Dead Couple | Media Scan: New York Times, The Economist, The Independent, Washington Times, Change the Climate Ads, HRC Newsletter | Drug War Vigil Film Festival Seeking Submissions | The Reformer's Calendar
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