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Moses chairs major study of needle exchange programs

STANFORD -- Lincoln Moses, professor emeritus of health research and policy and of statistics, chaired a joint panel of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine that issued a report Sept. 19 concluding that needle exchange programs reduce the spread of HIV - the virus that causes AIDS - without increasing either the injection of illegal drugs among program participants or the number of new initiates to injection drug use.

Given the evidence that needle exchange programs are effective, the panel recommended that the surgeon general of the United States lift the federal ban on funding such programs. The report was commissioned by Congress, which specified that the surgeon general could remove the ban if the academy's report was favorable.

In addition, the panel urged states and localities to repeal laws barring the sale and possession of injection paraphernalia and requiring a prescription to purchase injection equipment.

The panel did not call for a mandated national needle exchange program, but it recommended that communities desiring such programs be able to institute them using the resources at their disposal, unencumbered by present constraints on federal funding. The panel also recommended that federal health authorities develop appropriate measures for disposal of used needles.



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