Needle Exchange Programs: Effective Or Ineffective?

2504 words - 11 pages

Although needle exchange programs have been successful, they have had some criticism. One of the main goals in the needle exchange program is to prevent or to reduce the rate of transmission of any infectious diseases, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis C by distributing sterile syringes. The intended group that this program is trying to focus on is injecting drug users, since they have a high rate of either repeatedly using a contaminated syringe or sharing the same syringe with others. These programs do not only focus on distributing syringes to those who choose to accept them, some of the programs provide different services such as, counseling groups, education classes about the risk of using contaminated syringes, free medical visits, and HIV testing. On the other hand, some people may be against these types of programs because they are allowing injection drug users to continue to use drugs. Another reason why people may not be as accepting of the needle exchange programs is due to the fact that these programs are government funded.
The study conducted by MacNeil & Pauly (2011) focused on the perspective of the people who use the needle exchange programs in Canada. To receive the data from the injecting drug users, the researchers first recruited most of their participants from four needle exchange sites. There were a total of 33 people who participated (23 men and 10 women) in this study. The average age of the participants was 40.3 years of age, for men, the average was 43, whereas for women it was 34 years old. The participants were either homeless or were on government assistance programs. Out of the 33 participants, six of them reported being HIV positive (18%) and 16 reported being diagnosed with hepatitis C. The length of time that the participant’s have been injecting drugs varied from six months to over 20 years. The most common drugs that the participants reported using was heroin and cocaine. During the study, the researchers gather their data by interviewing the participants and doing focus groups. Finally, the researcher’s analyzed their data by using qualitative descriptive analysis. Once the researchers finished asking the participants questions and listening to them, the answers were interpreted and coded. In this study it explained why the participants began injecting drugs, whether it was for pleasure or to numb the pain that they were feeling, whether it was emotional or physical pain. Although they were aware of the consequences of using drugs, they did not stop because it was a way for them to cope with what was happening to them. The participants reported needle exchange programs being a safe haven, in where they feel like it's a community that can give them access to sterile syringes and not judge for being injection drug users. This study focused on how drug users not only receive clean needles, but also had different services such as clinic visits, assistance with welfare applications, and...

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