The county is considering a needle-exchange program. I am against the idea. The science is uncertain. Supporters of these policies frequently gloss over gaping holes in the data that leave significant doubt about whether these policies decrease AIDS transmission.
Treatment should be our priority. Treatment reduces drug use and AIDS transmission. Our first obligation is to make treatment available for those addicted to drugs, especially young people. AIDS is transmitted mainly through high-risk sexual contact, even among intravenous drug users.
AIDS is not the primary cause of death for intravenous drug users! A University of Pennsylvania study followed 415 drug users over four years. In that time, 28 died. Five died from causes associated with AIDS; most died of overdoses, homicide, suicide, kidney failure, or heart or liver disease.
Needle-exchange programs and changing our drug paraphernalia laws send a bad message. Providing needles to addicts will encourage drug use. The message is inconsistent with the goals of our national anti-drug campaign.