Clean needle access is a must, activists say
Twenty-nine people were arrested protesting the ban on federal funds for clean-needle access programs on Wednesday. Credit: Stephanie Simpson
Clean needle access is a must, activists say

Clean needles are available at Denver's Harm Reduction Action Center on Wednesdays, so there's a steady stream of clients.

 

The small Santa Fe Drive office is filled with people eating cupcakes and cereal, drinking coffee and lemonade and chatting.

 

Eventually, almost everyone makes their way to a table at the far end of the room, where volunteer James Ziegler is distributing 20-packs of clean needles. He writes down an anonymous code for each client. Beside the code, he notes how many syringes have been dropped off and picked up and how many people will receive the needles. He asks the clients if they'd like free HIV or hepatitis C testing.

 

On the same Wednesday morning - March 21 – a total of 29 chanting, chained protesters were arrested by Capitol Police in Washington DC. The protest was part of a national day of action to lift the ban on using federal funding for clean-needle access programs, like the one in Denver.

 

Groups of activists locked themselves together in the offices of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Reps. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Eric Cantor (R-VA). These are the legislators responsible for reinstating the ban on using federal funds for syringe-exchanges. The ban – which had previously been in place since 1988 – was lifted in 2009.

 

Harm reduction programs are seeking legislative aid for funding because they currently draw on a small pool of private money – six foundations nationally – said Lisa Raville, director of the Harm Reduction Action Center.

 

There are many studies that point to clean-needle access as an effective, not to mention relatively cheap, way to stop the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.

 

“Syringe exchanges drastically reduce the number of aids infections and hepatitis C infections,” said Kenyon Farrow of Housing Works, an AIDS advocacy group. “It does not increase the number of drug users. None of the research shows anything like that to be true.”

 

Farrow participated in the Washington D.C. protests, although he was not arrested.

 

Besides the Washington action, harm reduction volunteers, staff, advocates and clients around the country participated in email and phone campaigns, asking legislators to support needle-exchange funding. The Harm Reduction Action Center encouraged volunteers and clients to call or e-mail Colorado legislators on Wednesday.

 

Tom, a 47-year-old Denver man who uses the Harm Reduction Action Center, contacted two legislators during his visit. Tom has injected heroin for more than 25 years – although he's given it up and began methadone treatments in the past three weeks. He also has hepatitis C.

 

“I believe this could save thousands of lives,” Tom said. “Maybe millions of lives.”

 

The Harm Reduction Action Center began offering a legal needle exchange on Feb. 8. Before then,clean needles were harder to come by, Tom said. He'd get syringes from a friend with diabetes, or he'd buy them for a quarter each at a Colfax Avenue drug store. Sometimes, if he got cleaned up and acted confident and knowledgeable about his needle choice, he could buy a 100 pack from King Soopers.

 

“I'd use a needle until it wore out,” Tom said. “Some needles I'd use 50 times.”

 

Reusing and sharing needles pose obvious health threats, like transmission of HIV and hepatitis C, Raville said. It can also lead to serious bacterial infections.

 

Besides providing clean needles, the Harm Reduction Action Center offers the community a safe place to dispose of any syringes and tattoo and acupuncture needles, Raville said.

 

So perhaps it's not surprising that advocates find little organized opposition to clean-needle access programs.

 

“At this point, it only comes from pretty conservative politicians,” said Allan Clear, executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition. “What is so frustrating is they really don't care about the science. They ignore the science”

 

The programs come under fire because politicians assume that drug users are a vulnerable, unloved group, Clear said. He believes Wednesday's protests were successful if they showed politicians that the public does care about access to clean needles.

 

“People who use drugs are our relatives; they are us,” Clear said. “Drug users are a part of the fabric of our community. This affects so many people.”

Categories: 

About author

Leslie's picture

Leslie Wilber is a journalist who has covered police misconduct, courts, high school sports and other disasterous things. She lives in Denver and is an editor at The Precarious.

Nate Dunham's picture
Nate Dunham (not verified) Mon, 06/25/2012 - 01:30

I want to make a tumblr post out of this great article. Thank you for giving me the idea. I will surely put credits on the post. no deposit forex bonus

Kathryn's picture
Kathryn (not verified) Wed, 12/12/2012 - 23:10

I liked looking through your posts and will check
back here soon. As I feel your readers may be interested, kindly visit http://www.
SecretBingoBonus.co.uk when you can. It lists all the top-rated
bonuses being offered from major Forex sites, like SunbirdFX,
AvaFX and Netotrade.

Review my blog www.secretforexbonus.com

myflightandhotel.com's picture
myflightandhotel.com (not verified) Wed, 06/05/2013 - 05:00

What an inspiring story! I’m actually trying to save some money for next year for my next trips, hopefully my savings from this previous year will be enough to sustain all my travels. I’m glad to hear your travel success and good luck on all your future endeavors! myflightandhotel.com

realestatecareers101.com's picture
realestatecaree... (not verified) Wed, 06/05/2013 - 05:07

The fact is, that a lot of you out there have already sat down and considered working full time as a real estate agent. realestatecareers101.com

kohlman's picture
kohlman (not verified) Thu, 09/26/2013 - 05:08

en cios może zdarzyć się, ze będziemy musieli zgonić kilka dni w szpitalu. Nieszczęśliwy casus, oczekiwanie na zabieg czy nabrzmiała choroba mo kohlman gą wykonać, ze pójście do szpitala będzie poszczególnym rozsądnym rozwiązaniem. łazienki baterie do domu Niejeden raz może zdarzyć się, ze będziemy musieli żegnać kilka dni w szpitalu. Nieszczęśliwy wypadek, oczekiwanie na zabieg czy gwałtowna choroba mogą zdarzyć, ze pójście do szpitala będzie bezprzykładnym rozsądnym kohlman rozwiązaniem. Całe mrowie postaci nie wielbi pobytu w szpitalu. Wiąże się

Adam keplar's picture
Adam keplar (not verified) Fri, 11/15/2013 - 12:41

“People who use drugs are our relatives; they are us,” Clear said. “Drug users are a part of the fabric of our community. This affects so many people.” Drugs are so much dangerous really. watch this

Ruan Adam's picture
Ruan Adam (not verified) Sat, 11/16/2013 - 12:46

Drugs is a curse to our society. It harms a lot to us. software security consulting Young generaion are the worst sufferer.

mariacarry's picture
mariacarry (not verified) Sat, 11/16/2013 - 14:09

The main victim of drugs are the young generation.Parenta re so much anxious about this. Is there any good solution to stop this at once. visit here i came to know about this.Thanks for sharinmg this here. I am pretty impressed by this effort.

Alexander Ross's picture
Alexander Ross (not verified) Sat, 11/23/2013 - 07:33

On the same Wednesday morning - March 21 – a total of 29 chanting, chained protesters were arrested by Capitol Police in Washington DC. The protest was part of a national day of action to lift the ban on using federal funding for clean-needle access programs, like the one in Denver.

this is the best site of learn more about this matter. i want more project from them.

Rob Baily's picture
Rob Baily (not verified) Sat, 12/07/2013 - 10:38

they arranged this so nicely. people expect more from them. i want to come here again to see more. The protest was part of a national day of action to lift the ban on using federal funding for clean-needle access programs, like the one in Denver.

Pages

Post new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <p> <a> <em> <strong> <b> <i> <u> <strike> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <img> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td> <th> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <blockquote> <hr> <span> <br> <font> <sup> <sub> <div> <iframe> <object>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Remove empty newlines at beginning of text (leaves alone newlines embedded in body)

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Related Posts