Just when The Washington Post reports the demise of needle exchange services in D.C., The New York Times catches up, covering the only safe injection facility in North America. Which is in Canada, of course.
The irony would be better if Vancouver had just started opened this facility, but I mean it when I say that The New York Times is catching up. InSite opened in 2003.
Still, the irony is pretty good.
As the Time’s reports, the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver was once home to the fastest-growing AIDS population in North America.
The city took action, and along with implementing needle exchange programs, they went one step further, opening InSite. People suffering with addiction bring their own drugs to the center, staffed with health care professionals, and shoot up. The facility reduces disease transmission and the risk of death from overdose.
To watch the multimedia piece, click here.
Back in the U.S., D.C. is the HIV/AIDS epidemic epicenter, and the State has responded by delaying funding to it’s needle exchange program. Both the federal and state governments are cutting funding to programs that prevent the spread of HIV, Hepatitis and STDs. I mean, why raise taxes when you can cut frivolous expenses like needle exchange programs and Planned Parenthood?
Unfortunately, cutting these programs isn’t even going to save money. The cost of running the needle exchange program in D.C. for a year is less than the cost of care for a single AIDS patient over a lifetime. Did I mention that the program serves 2,200 people?
But, I guess when even programs for starving babies are getting the axe, it’s not surprising that drug addicts aren’t garnering much sympathy.