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DC Needle Exchanges Curb Spread of HIV

AJMC Staff
Predictive modeling determined that the needle exchange in Washington, DC, prevented 120 new cases of HIV in 2 years, according to researchers.
Needle exchanges can prevent new cases of HIV, according to a new study published in AIDS and Behavior. After Washington, DC, lifted the ban on spending city money on needle exchanges, the researchers used a modeling technique to predict how many HIV infections would have occurred if the ban remained. They determined that the needle exchange prevented 120 new cases in 2 years.

Intravenous drug users can trade dirty syringes for clean ones at needle exchanges, which have been controversial programs to implement and spend city money on. While proponents claim needle exchanges curb the spread of HIV, opponents argue that the existence of these programs enable addicts to keep using.

In 1988, Congress banned the use of federal funds for needle exchanges. However, the District of Columbia was unable to use its own money until 2007, because Congress oversees its budget. The DC ban was lifted in late 2007 and the needle exchange program was implemented.

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