San Antonio Conference Debates Benefits of Needle-Exchange Programs for Preventing HIV Among Injection Drug Users
May 17, 2004
Health experts, community leaders, heads of not-for-profit organizations and representatives from law enforcement gathered in San Antonio on Wednesday to discuss the benefits of needle-exchange programs for preventing the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among injection drug users, the San Antonio Express-News reports. Organizers said that the conference, titled "It's Time: Harm Reduction for San Antonio," could be the "first step" toward initiating a needle-exchange program in the city, according to the Express-News. Allan Clear, director of the Harm Reduction Coalition in New York City, at the conference said that some HIV outbreaks could have been prevented with "effective, large-scale" needle-exchange programs, according to the Express-News. "This is an epidemic that never needed to happen," Clear said, adding, "It's actually man-made. We knew how to prevent it." According to CDC, studies show that needle-exchange programs can reduce new HIV infections among injection drug users by 30%. According to Dr. Fernando Guerra, director of the city's Metropolitan Health District, San Antonio in 2003 recorded more than 4,000 hepatitis C cases, 60% of which were among injection drug users, the Express-News reports.
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