News from the AIDS Conference--Needle Exchange

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Copyright 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008; 7:11 AM

Needle exchange may be a controversial topic in U.S. political circles, but among organizers and delegates at the international conference this week in Mexico City, it's a no-brainer. "When it comes to prevention in IV (intravenous) drug users, there is no complexity, said Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. "It's needle exchange and substitution therapy, period." Substitution therapy involves replacing an illegal substance, such as heroin, with a legal drug such as methadone. Under a doctor's supervision, the substitute is used to curb an addict's cravings while being weaned off off the illegal drug. Needle exchange is intended to reduce the risk of contracting HIV by reusing or sharing hypodermic needles. Although the Bush administration opposes needle exchange, "the advantage in the U.S. is that local governments do it," said UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot. The one twist, of course, is the


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