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I am very concerned that there won't be any money left in the budget for needle exchange programs in Oregon (or anywhere else for that matter).
Aside from Obama refusing to lift the ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs (while simultaneously breaking his campaign pledge), I'm afraid that it won't be seen as an urgent public-health priority at state level. And with the states' estimated $4 billion shortfall - I'm sure there won't be a lot of room in the budget for this kind of thing - as controversial and unpopular as it's been in the past and with many other important programs to consider (education, state health care, adult psychiatric care, etc.).
I hope long-term care costs are taken into consideration. The lifetime cost of treating someone living with AIDS is enormously higher than preventing it with sterile syringe equipment at a needle exchange program. (It's been estimated at an 83% savings in some studies.) We must also acknowledge how many HIV infections can be (and have been) avoided with the availability of needle exchange programs.
Also, many NEP's provide opportunities for contact between outreach workers and drug abusers that may reduce or eliminate drug dependence as well as offer medical and social services, HIV and STD testing, detox, case management, free counseling, and other helpful resources.
With the positive cost benefit of NEP's and millions of dollars and lives saved each year I hope our state can continue to make room in the budget for this invaluable program.
posted 4 years ago
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