Researcher at Rice University’s Baker Institute recommends good public policy
Many opponents of needle-exchange programs argue that supplying drug users with clean needles sends the wrong message. But a researcher at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy advises that they should be concerned about the message they’re actually sending. Despite the overwhelming evidence that needle-exchange programs (NEPs) can help reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, many legislators refuse to support such efforts and instead write off death and illness as "just deserts" for illegal behavior, said William Martin, senior fellow in religion and public policy at the Baker Institute.
In a research paper posted this month on the Baker Institute Web site, Martin paraphrases the message these opponents are really conveying to injecting drug users (IDUs): "We know a way to dramatically cut your chances of contracting a deadly disease, then spreading it to others, including your unborn children. It would also dramatically cut the amount of money society is going to have to spend on you and those you infect. But because we believe what you are doing is illegal, immoral and sinful, we are not going to do what we know works. You are social lepers and, as upright, moral, sincerely religious people, we prefer that you and others in your social orbit die."
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