Newsbrief: Baltimore Needle Exchange Hailed on Tenth Anniversary 8/27/04

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Baltimore's city-run needle exchange program (NEP) has weathered initial controversy to become the nation's largest, Baltimore Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson said August 21 as he marked the 10th anniversary of the program. The program has taken more than six million needles off the streets, he told the Associated Press.

Baltimore is one of the nation's cities hardest hit by heroin, with an estimated 50-55,000 addicts, or 7% of the city's population. The NEP has enrolled more than 14,000 injection drug users, Beilenson said.

Designed to reduce the rate of new HIV infection, the NEP has worked. More than 2,800 people have been tested for HIV. And according to the Maryland AIDS Commission, in the decade since the Baltimore NEP began, drug-related HIV cases have dropped from about 360 in 1994 to about 50 in 2002. Drug-related HIV cases have also dropped as a percentage of all new cases, from 61% in 1994 to 39% in 2002.

"Is it perfect? No," Beilenson said. "Do people still share needles sometimes? Sure. But the fact that six million fewer needles have been shared clearly has had an impact." And the controversy has died down as the NEP has proven effective at reducing disease. "I think it's very safe to say that there's no controversy at all that our results have been excellent over the past 10 years," he said.

Now, if only officials from New Jersey and Delaware, the only two states that neither allow non-prescription syringe sales nor NEPs, would hop on I-95 and check in with their colleagues in Baltimore.

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Issue #351, 8/27/04 Editorial: Prohibition Itself Must Go | Timely Intervention Helps Block Student Drug Testing: The Case of Oregon's Lebanon Community School District | Arkansas Medical Marijuana Initiative Hands in More Signatures, Drive to Make Ballot Still Alive | Two Web Sites Now Online Are Naming Names and Seeking Info on Narcs and Snitches | Newsbrief: No Criminal Charges Against Cops in Goose Creek High School Raid | Newsbrief: Baltimore Needle Exchange Hailed on Tenth Anniversary | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Virginia Judge Jails Woman for Taking Prescription Methadone | Newsbrief: Minneapolis City Council Rejects Medical Marijuana Initiative | Newsbrief: Seattle Hempfest Endorses Kerry | Newsbrief: DPA Reaches Out to GOP Conventioneers | Newsbrief: Hip-Hop Summit Action Network Pulls Out of NYC GOP Anti-Drug War March, Broader Event Will Go On Instead | Online Petition on Marc Emery and Canadian Marijuana Law Reform | Keith Cylar Activist Fund | Media Scan: Kunstler Rockefeller Video, Counterpunch | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar

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