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Many Benefits in Needle Exchange Programs

May 18, 2003

Re "Riverside County Says No to Needle Program," May 14: One should always be wary of law enforcement officials who make pronouncements on public health strategy, but especially when their uncompromising positions reflect beliefs that have no basis in fact. The Riverside County Board of Supervisors is making a big mistake in accepting the notion that needle exchange programs promote the use of illegal drugs. They don't, as consistent experience throughout the world, including the United States, proves.

Equally consistent are the reports of the benefits of such programs: reduced sharing of needles and syringes, reduced spread of illness and reduced deaths.

Robert Newman MD

Director, Chemical

Dependency Institute

Beth Israel Medical Center

New York City

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