I am writing in response to Chansokhy Anhaouy’s letter “Drug users need tough love, not needle exchange” (October 2). She writes: “New York city has done a great job in the last decade when it comes to coping with drugs and gang-related crime. New York today is not like it once was.”
Chansokhy Anhaouy seems to believe that New York city has addressed its drug problems without offering needle exchange services to prevent the spread of infectious disease. That is wrong. In the past decade, New York city has increased the number of needle-exchange programmes operating in the city and increased the amount of public money available for such programmes. It seems that the needle exchange Chansokhy Anhaouy deplores is an integral part of the crime reduction she applauds.
In 1992, when needle exchange became legal in New York city, one in every two drug injectors was infected with HIV. That rate is now reduced to one in every 10 injectors and continues to decrease. Sterile syringes for drug injectors benefit not just injectors but also protect their families, their communities and the entire city.
As usual, the greatest enemy of public health and safety is the smug ignorance of those who offer answers without knowing the facts.
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