Harm Reduction: More Than 300,000 HIV/AIDS Cases Linked to Injection Drug Use

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 300,000 people have been infected with the HIV/AIDS virus through injection drug use. That is roughly 30% of all the slightly more than one million cases reported in the US since the disease first appeared on the radar in the early 1980s. The figures are contained in Table 3 of the CDC's latest HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, covering cases through 2006.

According to the report, more than 170,000 men and nearly 75,000 women contracted the virus through sharing dirty needles. Another 68,000 men contracted the virus through a combination of injection drug use and male-to-male sexual contact.

If there is any good news on the HIV/AIDS drug injection front, it is that the percentage of new cases linked to injection drug use appears to be dropping. While over the history of the epidemic, roughly 30% of all cases are linked to needle-sharing, in 2006 that number was only 17%.

Still, that means that more than 3,000 men and more than 1,700 women contracted the virus in 2006 through injection drug use. Nearly 1,200 more men contracted the virus through a combination of needle-sharing and male-to-male sex.

Needle exchange and other programs designed to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS currently operate in around 200 US localities, but despite their proven record in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, they continue to face hostility in some communities and from some state and local officials. Under an amendment offered by then Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX), the federal government is prohibited from spending federal funds on needle exchange programs. Both remaining Democratic Party presidential candidates, Sens. Hillary Clinton (NY) and Barack Obama (IL), have called for an end to that ban.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Wanted for Crimes Against Humanity--Were That It Were So...

Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), et al., is (are) herein accused of multiple counts of violating the constitutional rights of 300,000+ drug users, including those who have by some means been infected with HIV/AIDS through the use of infected needles by others for intravenous drug injection.  The alleged crime against humanity involves using the powers of a government to deliberately restrict said individuals’ access to disease-free hypodermic needles for safe drug injection, and thereby knowingly depriving the individuals of their constitutionally secured civil rights as they apply to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Since the accused is (are) beyond the reach of the normal channels of justice in the United States, the only remaining recourse is to petition the international court so that an arrest warrant and detention can be secured through a cooperating foreign government, and that a trial be conducted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to determine the guilt of Sen. Gramm, as well as any and all others who cooperated in making sterile hypodermic needles generally unavailable to drug addicts in the United States.

Here’s hoping that Sen. Gramm and his cohorts live long enough to stand trial in The Hague.

Giordano

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