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April 16, 1997

Syringe and Needle Regulation, Blood-Borne Disease Transmission, and Concern for Public Safety

Author Affiliations

University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia
Tufts University School of Medicine Boston, Mass

JAMA. 1997;277(15):1203. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540390033028

—We are all for preventing IDUs from contracting deadly blood-borne diseases and, therefore, fully support creation and expansion of syringe exchange programs. However, repeal of syringe regulation laws and practice guidelines as outlined by Gostin and colleagues1 is a dangerous and illconceived solution. Granting access to an endless supply of needles to society's most irresponsible members is as preposterous as it is unthinkable. Possession of hypodermic needles carries a serious responsibility to dispose of them safely. Trusting an IDU to fully carry out this responsibility is both foolish and naive. Injecting drug users are by legal definition criminals, by medical definition addicts who are unable to control their own impulses and actions, and by society's definition the very letter of irresponsibility. Beyond the physician's responsibility to IDUs is our responsibility to protect the public at large. No doubt, trash collectors and beachgoers, among the persons most assuredly at risk to

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