Needle Exchange Programs, Safe Injection Sites And Address The Social And Political Issues Associated With Intravenous Drug Users

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Needle exchange programs have long been a controversial subject with both the general population and government lawmakers. The primary objective for needle exchange programs (NEPs) is to prevent the spread of blood-borne disease and is very successful in doing so. But, issues of morality due to the perception of drug enablement and the stigma of intravenous drug users (IDUs) and their potential effects on the decline of society are continually used as arguments for those against NEPs. It has been proven through many studies that these programs not only reduce harms associated with intravenous drug use, they are also cost effective and reduce the circulation of used syringes to the general population. Beyond epidemiological efforts, NEPs also provide a de-stigmatized center for gathering and offers health services such as HIV testing, counselling and referrals to treatment for drug addiction. This paper aims to highlight the efficacy of needle exchange programs, safe injection sites and address the social and political issues associated with them. Intravenous drug users are some of the individuals most susceptible for contracting and transmitting blood-borne diseases such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B and hepatitis C. In Canada, there was an estimated 71,300 cases of HIV at the end of 2011 with an incidence of approximately 2,250 to 4,100 cases. IDUs account for 13.7% of Canadians living with HIV. Prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HVC) is currently

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