Junkies don’t want Aids. They want to use clean needles. Clean needles eliminate the Aids problem in injectable drug addicts. So, logically, let’s provide clean needles! A non-brainer. But then comes drug policy, moralistic prejudice, (unconscious) wish to punish the sinners with Aids, police arrest for needle possession. Result: addicts use dirty needles and get HIV.
Legitimate Drug Injection Kit (Wikipedia)
Human Irrationality, dogmas, blindness at its best.“People do stupid things. That’s what spreads HIV.”
Needle exchange is an even clearer solution then condom use efforts. Because condoms are unpleasant. Clean needles are not even detracting from drug “pleasure”.
Our “morality” is outdated & immoral. We need updated morality.
Drug War, morality, religion, sexual morality etc prevent needle exchanges, thus cause HIV infection and deaths. Call it insanity. Call it suffering and death caused by false outdated stupid “morality”. Dogma, blindness, self-deception ….. We believe in our 2000year old holy books. They were very good for their times. But no biblical author knew about HIV virus transmission or drug addiction therapy. In later posts I will write about Peter Singer’s utilitarism as a help to guide our morals.
Elisabeth Pisani @ TED
“People do stupid things. That’s what spreads HIV.” [ . . . ] Now, let’s look at it from a policy maker’s point of view. This is a really easy problem. For once, your incentives are aligned. We’ve got what’s rational for public health. You want people to use clean needles, and junkies want to use clean needles. So we could make this problem go away simply by making clean needles universally available and taking away the fear of arrest.
Now, the first person to figure that out and do something about it on a national scale was that well-known, bleeding heart liberal Margaret Thatcher. And she put in the world’s first national needle exchange program and other countries followed suit, Australia, The Netherlands and few others, and in all of those countries, you can see, not more than four percent ever became infected with HIV, of injectors.
In places that didn’t do this, New York City for example, Moscow, Jakarta, we’re talking, at its peak, one in two injectors infected with this fatal disease. Now, Margaret Thatcher didn’t do this because she has any great love for junkies. She did it because she ran a country that had a national health service. So, if she didn’t invest in effective prevention, she was going to have pick up the costs of treatment later on, and obviously those are much higher. So she was making a politically rational decision. Now, if I take out my public health nerd glasses here, and look at these data, it seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it. But in this country, where the government apparently does not feel compelled to provide health care for citizens, we’ve taken a very different approach. So what we’ve been doing in the United States is reviewing the data, endlessly reviewing the data. So these are reviews of hundreds of studies by all the big muckety-mucks of the scientific pantheon in the United States, and these are the studies that show needle programs are effective, quite a lot of them. ted.com/talks/view/id/818
Rational Publich Healty Policy demands
- allow needle exchange to make addiction less dangerous
- consider furnishing cleaner, cheaper, less harmful drugs
Of course, if we furnish needles, we should also furnish anti-addiction therapy, public information, etc. Some think one should not spend money to prevent addicts from getting AIDS: these addicts pass on AIDS to non-addicted innocent partners, who then could pass it on to you and me. And once an addict has AIDS, society helps to treat the medical AIDS cases with massive financial investments. Needles are cheaper!
We need morality and public action to reign in disease & death through drugs
We need to try to reduce drug damage by information policy, advertising, influencing public opinion, education, ………
As positive examples, we managed to reduce cigarette use and to enforce seat belt use. But, changing society’s habits and attitudes took decades.
Society vastly reduced tobacco abuse, increased seatbelt and helmet compliance
We are belatedly reducing most problems caused by cigarettes. But this is a decade long process, very slow. We managed without handing out 10 year jail sentences for possession or production of cigarettes (as we do in case of drugs, pedophilia, child pornography). We made laws to move people towards less harmful filter cigarettes. We managed by public awareness campaigns. Not drakonian punishments.
We are also slowly instigating “morality” regarding seat belt use, helmet use, driving habits, etc.
We don’t deal too well with junk food, obesity, alcohol. So we need to learn how to create moral behavior in society to avoid damage to individuals and society. There must be better ways then total restriction
Society failed to solve obesity, junk food, sedentarism, alcoholism, drugs
Society needs to promote healthy and sane habits. But, if we don’t use blind drakonian repression of drugs (and needles), other measures need to be found to maintain healthy individuals and a healthy society. It is not moral to stand by idly while millions suffer from diseases and premature death, due to overeating and alcohol. It is not moral to allow youth and adults to be brainwashed by junk food and subliminal alcohol advertising.
Society and morality failed miserably to deal with drugs like alcohol, “drugs” like junk food and sedentarism. These caus inumerous deaths.
Old religious morality is a serious impediment
A 2000 year old Book (the bible, but also other religious texts) was never concerned with abortion, birth control, keeping dying people alive artificially, with overpopulation, etc. We need now morality.