In response to Sunday's Dispatch story "Clean needles," the AIDS Resource Center Ohio commends and finds encouragement in Gov. John Kasich's call for a practical solution.
In response to Sunday’s Dispatch story “ Clean needles,” the AIDS Resource Center Ohio commends and finds encouragement in Gov. John Kasich’s call for a practical solution.
What’s needed is to treat the problem, and not just the symptoms, of addiction and syringe use.
Many of the individuals treated by ARC each year contract, or are at high risk of contracting, of HIV, Hepatitis C and other bloodborne diseases. Infection typically happens through the use of contaminated syringes.
Therefore, we have advocated for passage of House Bill 92, which would dramatically increase Ohio’s access to syringe-exchange programs.
The bill also would require that a variety of substance-abuse services be made available to people battling drug addictions.
We know from research that individuals who use syringe-exchange programs are up to five times more likely to seek treatment. This is largely due to the fact, that, through the exchange, they come into contact with counseling and referral services such as those that will be required by this bill.
We also know, as cited in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, that providing sterilized equipment to injection-drug users substantially reduces the risk of HIV infection, increases the probability that they will initiate drug treatment and does not increase drug use.
Consistent with Kasich, ARC Ohio believes that needle-exchange programs should be responsible for linkage to testing, addiction counseling and other services supporting the drug user’s health and rehabilitation.
House Bill 92 requires that each program must “Refer each injection-drug user to the board of alcohol, drug addiction, and mental health services that serves the area in which the health district is located; and encourage each injection-drug user to seek appropriate medical, mental-health or social services.”
ARC Ohio is grateful for the Governor’s practical consideration of public-health policies such as this in the face of an epidemic that is sweeping through Ohio’s communities.
We further appreciate the bipartisan support the bill received when it passed out of the House, and are hopeful for favorable consideration in the Senate in the weeks to come.
WILLIAM J. HARDY
President and chief executive officer
AIDS Resource Center Ohio