I was quoted today in a Wired News article about the Link and Think project to mark Sunday’s World AIDS Day. The reporter got one small bit wrong, a MetaFilter user posted a link to someone’s story, not a member’s own story, though it’s a minor point.
The story is still a gripping and moving piece that did make me rethink my position on needle exchanges. Until that point, I thought the idea of needle exchanges was kind of out there. They’re frequently used to generate scare quotes in stories aiming to show how HIV/AIDS funding is going too far, by claiming with some sense of outrage that junkies are using needles paid for by the gov’t and isn’t that outrageous?
Two years ago during the Day Without Weblogs project, I set out to do some of my own personal research on the subject and was surprised by what I found. They actually do reduce the number of new infections, rid the streets of needles infected with HIV, and studies show they don’t encourage an increase in drug use. “But should we still spend gov’t money on junkies? Wouldn’t we simply be saving the lowest elements of society?” I still thought. I posted my findings to MetaFilter but in my mind I still wasn’t convinced of their worth, until Brad‘s link to the needle exchange story reminded me that addicts are indeed people that can clean themselves up and contribute to society, and that my former point of view was blind to that possibility.
If you’ve got a weblog, this Sunday I encourage you to do some personal research on HIV/AIDS related issues you may be unsure of, as you may be surprised by the results you find.