News, Weather, Mozart, Sports, Eurovision Love Ænema & Perverted Videogames from Vleeptron

NGO_Vleeptron (aka "Bob from Massachusetts") recently featured LIVE on BBC WORLD SERVICE, heard briefly by Gazillions!!!

My Photo
Location: Great Boreal Deciduous Hardwood Forest, New England, United States

old dude, all hair, swell new teeth

07 May 2005

Westport gets its wish

The USA has 50 states. In 45 of them, an adult can buy hypodermic syringes from a pharmacy just by asking, without a doctor's prescription.

Massachusetts is one of five states which still make possession of a syringe without a doctor's prescription a crime.

A needle exchange program trades new sterile syringes for old, used, contaminated syringes. It also gives exchange members whom police find with a syringe a "Get Out of Jail Free" card; show the card to the cop, the cop gives you back the syringe and lets you go. (This offer only good for syringes, not for the bag of heroin or other prohibited substance.)

Without such a program, in a state like Massachusetts which restricts and criminalizes non-prescription sales of needles, needle addicts (heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and the synthetic opiate oxycodone/Oxycontin) share used needles with other addicts, dramatically increasing the rate of transmission of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

From the needle addict community, these viral diseases leap to non-addicts by the careless discarding of needles, and through unprotected sex. The requirement to exchange an old needle to get a new needle is a huge incentive to keep the streets free of discarded old needles. Needle exchange workers also distribute condoms and offer other health services and health education.

Those opposed to needle exchange programs and to off-prescription sales of needles claim needle exchanges and open needle sales encourage more needle drug use and "send a bad message about drug use to children." According to these opponents, if the state hands out clean needles or permits unregulated sales of needles, the state is encouraging drug abuse.

Vleeptron has a needle exchange program and non-prescription open sales of syringes.

So does Northampton, Massachusetts USA. Northampton doesn't have a huge needle addict community. We have some, and a handful of overdose deaths a year. In the typical overdose death, a user passes out, and his or her friends at the heroin party are too frightened to call an ambulance for a half hour or an hour, because they're afraid (appropriately) that they'll all go to jail. The addict dies during that delay. It's pretty easy to revive an overdose victim if paramedics reach him/her promptly; a drug called Narcan is very effective.

Northampton's needle exchange program keeps our addicts alive and as healthy as possible until they're ready to ask for help to get beyond addiction, and then the needle exchange workers are there with the help they seek. Meanwhile, for about 12 years, Northampton's exchange program has quietly helped keep the city's HIV/AIDS and hepatitis transmission rate low.

The Westport mob was, essentially, demanding to keep their risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS and hepatitis substantially higher than it has to be. They will get their wish.


The Boston Globe (Boston Massachusetts USA)
Saturday 29 April 2005

Westport reverses
needle-exchange vote

By David Abel, Globe Staff

Three days after unanimously voting to become the first Massachusetts town in nearly a decade to begin a needle-exchange program for drug users, Westport's Board of Selectmen bowed to public pressure yesterday and voted not only to rescind its decision but to ban any such future program.

The selectmen's vote Monday night to create the program ignited a firestorm.

Yesterday, nearly 200 people crowded into Town Hall, forcing the board to move the meeting outside on the building's front steps, selectmen said.

As residents screamed insults at them, some selectmen apologized for advancing their plan to encourage illegal drug users to swap dirty needles for clean syringes without gaining more public support, according to those who attended the meeting.

The board first voted unanimously to reverse Monday's decision, then voted, 3 to 2, never to allow a needle-exchange program in the town.

''There was fear, there was anger," said the Board of Selectmen chairwoman, Elizabeth A. Collins, who said she fielded more than 100 calls in recent days about the issue.

''It was not right we didn't engage the town in debate. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive in publicizing it."

But Collins, who trained as a registered nurse and voted against the measure to ban a future program, said she did not regret her vote on Monday, which she had hoped would reduce blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. About 43 percent of HIV cases can be traced to the use of injectable drugs in this town of about 14,000 people.

''I believe in needle exchange very strongly," she said. ''I believe it saves lives. This is not an epidemic; it's a pandemic. The idea was to back off now and raise public awareness. We cannot even do that now."

It is possible a Board of Selectmen could approve a needle-exchange program in the future, Collins said.

Westport became the state's first community outside of Boston, Cambridge, Northampton, and Provincetown to adopt a needle-exchange program. About 50 miles south of Boston, Westport is between the cities of Fall River and New Bedford, which have experienced a rash of drug use and HIV.

In New Bedford, between 2001 and 2003, two of every three newly diagnosed HIV patients contracted the virus after using old needles.

In Fall River, 58 percent of HIV patients used them. On average, about 25 percent of the infected population in Massachusetts used tainted needles.

Westport Selectman Richard M. Tongue, who voted to ban any future program, said he was ''disappointed" by the public outcry.

''I just didn't think the town would really ever be ready," he said.

''There aren't a lot of forward thinkers in the town. I think it's something that's needed. There are people out there dying every day from the use of dirty needles. I want to help," he said.

After yesterday's meeting, Nancy Paull, a Westport resident who is chief executive officer of Stanley Street Treatment & Resources, which would have run the program, said she was shocked by the public backlash.

''I had read about mob mentality, and for the first time in my life, I saw a mob," Paull said. ''There was threatening behavior. There was screaming. There were slurs. It wasn't public pressure, it was mob pressure."

- 30 -


Post a Comment

<< Home