Drug users with access to controversial syringe-exchange programs are up to six times less likely to put themselves at risk of HIV infection, according to a new UC Davis study published in the November issue of Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
"While programs to control the spread of HIV by providing clean needles to drug users remain controversial in California and around the country, this study clearly shows that syringe-exchange programs save lives -- and save society millions of dollars in health care costs required to treat HIV patients," said lead author David R. Gibson, associate professor of infectious and immunologic diseases at UC Davis and a senior scientist at UC San Franciscos Center for AIDS Prevention Studies.
Injection drug use is linked to about one-third of all HIV/AIDS cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug users contract these diseases by sharing contaminated syringes. To curb this high-risk behavior, syringe exchanges operate in a variety of settings, including storefronts, vans, sidewalk tables, health clinics, and places where drug users gather.
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