Creative Writing

Exchanging Dirty Hypodermic Needles

In the states where exchanging dirty hypodermic needles for clean ones or buying clean  ones is legal, the transmission of HIV and hepatitis has greatly decreased.  In the California legislature such legalization has been blocked by the last two governors because of their belief that exchanging dirty needles for clean ones would increase the use of drugs.  I do not agree with this reasoning. I believe that our State, like every other state that has not yet instituted an exchange program, should immediately approve legislation to make clean needles available for a number of reasons.

Since the transmission of HIV and hepatitis has been greatly decreased in the states where exchanging dirty hypodermic needles for clean ones or buying clean ones is legal, I am prepared to accept that as true and guardedly generalize those results to my State if we legalized such a program.  The results would be that fewer health care dollars would be expended for sick infected people, workplaces would not continue to lose as much money as they do now due to missing ill workers, fewer people would be suffering in agony from these terrible illnesses, fewer social services dollars would need to be spent for the basics of life and for counselling for the ill people, and fewer would be dying a needless, agonizing and premature death.  If carried out in a caring and non-judgemental manner, such a program is known to have provided opportunities for users to talk to the needle exchangers in an open manner and begin to turn their lives around.

Contrary to our State’s belief that such a program would increase the use of drugs, Christoffersen, 2007, writes that “A growing body of research has found that needle exchange programs reduce the spread of AIDS without increasing drug use.” In addition to our State’s erroneous belief in this instance, is the ban on funding of such programs in the United States.


Christoffersen, J., Associated Press (2007, March 11).  Needle programs struggle with funding despite positive studies. Retrieved on February 24, 2013, from