HIV, Don’t Blame Me

by The Discovering Alcoholic on May 29, 2007

Hat tip to The Junky’s Wife who found a story by THISMAGAZINE entitled “HIV, Thanks officer.” that summarizes a just-released report from the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. Here’s an excerpt:

“(1)To avoid HIV, hepatitis, abscesses and other health problems, ideally an injection drug user should use a new, clean needle each time. (2)But when people are afraid of being thrown in jail, they avoid carrying needles on their person, re-use them often, and hide them in dirty places—bushes, garbage cans—to avoid detection. (3)They inject as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of getting caught in the act, often injuring themselves in the process. (4)They can be forced to store their drugs in any available bodily orifice on approach of the cops, which is harmful and dangerous. (5)In some cases, they may switch from smoking to injecting a drug like heroin, even though this is riskier, because it can done faster and requires less of the drug itself.” (Numbering inserted by me)

Now I’m probably the liberalest recovery fundamentalist (snark) that I know, in fact I might be the only one. I support alternative sentencing, methadone maintenance treatment, and even needle exchange programs- as long as they have a parallel recovery program that is promoted and made available. But this report by Joanne Csete (you can download the report here) just seems a little bit too one-sided for the shredded wheat side of my addiction sense.

Read more below to see my objections…

Well let’s take these by the numbers:

(1) The best way to avoid HIV, hepatitis, abscesses and other health problems is to get into a recovery program.
(2) Sterile and hygienic aren’t exactly buzzwords for homeless people who inject on the street even when they are not worried about being thrown in jail.
(3) They inject quickly as possible to avoid getting caught, or is it because they are literally dying to get high?
(4) Forced to store their drugs in bodily orifices on approach of the cops, or is it protecting their drugs from theft by anyone including other addicts?
(5) They may switch from smoking to injection, duh! That’s an addiction, you need more and you need it faster, but as your disease progresses you have less to work with.

I probably wouldn’t have bothered responding at all to this piece if not for the title, it literally blames law enforcement for the spread of HIV. Yes, there is always some abuse of police power but it is limited for the most part in the US and Canada. Got a beef, the police only enforce the laws so take it up with the citizens and the government. I am all for helping people that have addictions because there was a time I needed it too. But in our zeal to help others we should never forget that no matter how unfair it is, there is only one person you can point the finger at when it comes addictions (and even the spread of HIV) and its not me or your neighborhood officer.

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