By George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health
The District of Columbia’s needle exchange program prevented 120 new cases of HIV infection and saved an estimated $44 million over just a two-year period, according to a first-of-a-kind study published today by researchers at the Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University.
“Our study adds to the evidence that needle exchange programs not only work but are cost-effective investments in the battle against HIV,” says Monica S. Ruiz, PhD, MPH, an assistant research professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health at Milken Institute SPH. “We saw a 70 percent drop in newly diagnosed HIV cases in just two years. At the same time, this program saved the District millions of dollars that would have been spent for treatment had those 120 persons been infected.”
The new study, published in the scientific journal, AIDS and Behavior, may help to inform the ongoing debate among policymakers about whether to provide funding for programs that distribute sterile injection equipment to drug users. Last spring, health officials in Indiana’s Scott County created a needle exchange program to deal with injection drug use and the rapid spread of HIV–and local officials in other parts of the U.S. are considering the same move. Critics argue that such programs encourage illicit drug use. But other research has shown that drug users who come in for clean needles often get other health services-including referral to programs that treat drug addiction.
Read the full article by clicking the name of the source below.