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Procrit and Jim, Johnny, and Jack
Jun 29, 2005

Hey Doc,

HIV control is OK but I'm anemic so I'm due to start Procrit this week. No problem there. I'm no stranger to needles. Any trouble if I still visit with Jim, Johnny, and Jack on the weekends? (as in Beam, Walker, and Daniels). Yeah I know everything in moderation.

Speaking of needles, since that's how I contracted this shitty disease, what's up with needle exchange programs?

Derek

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hey Derek,

What an intoxicating trio Jim, Johnny and Jack! I see no problem with your continuing to play with your guy-friends while on Procrit in moderation! There are no drug interactions between Procrit and adult beverages or men whose names begin with the letter J, for that matter. ("Rub a dub dub, three men in a club?") Just remember alcohol to excess is never a good idea.

Speaking of other bad ideas, Bush's latest moral crusade is destined to significantly raise the HIV/AIDS infection rate in Russia, China, elsewhere in Asia and in the former Eastern Bloc. And it's directly related to his anti-science view of needle-exchange programs! In these places, drug users who inject are a prime target for HIV/AIDS, and the gateway through which the epidemic will spread into the general population. Up to one third of new HIV/AIDS infections outside Sub-Saharan Africa are in needle-sharing drug users. In Russia, the United Nations AIDS Program, UNAIDS, estimates that injection drug users are 80 percent of those infected! Needle-exchange programs can help control this part of the epidemic. That has been shown repeatedly in epidemiological studies.

Astoundingly, last week at a UNAIDS policy meeting, the Bush administration asked that all references to needle exchange be dropped from the group's governing policy paper. UNAIDS sets world policy on how to fight AIDS and usually operates by consensus to give its recommendations more credibility and force. Guess what? America (i.e. the Bush administration) is virtually alone in its opposition to needle exchange. Unfortunately the U.S.'s clout as the largest UNAIDS donor means it just might get its way. If UNAIDS could no longer work on needle exchange, nations would lose a valuable source of technical help that ultimately saves lives and decreases the HIV-infection rate. Other countries may never even consider starting a needle-exchange program without a consensus recommendation form UNAIDS.

U.S. law forbids United States' money from financing needle-exchange programs. For Bush to unilaterally decide, against all scientific fact, common sense and decency, that he wants to bully everyone else to stop funding needle-exchange programs as well, is immoral and shockingly dangerous.

Take care, Derek.

Dr. Bob


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