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

Lawrence O. Gostin, JD
JAMA. 1997;277(15):1203. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540390033029.
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In Reply.  —Public health authorities at the federal and state level face critical policy choices if they are to prevent bloodborne disease, including HIV/AIDS, effectively among IDUs, their sexual partners, and children. As Dr Friedland thoughtfully explains, the limited availability of sterile syringes results in premature mortality, as well as inordinately high health care costs. As discussed in our article, deregulation of syringe sales and removal of the legal restrictions on syringe exchange programs would help protect the public health at relatively little financial or social cost.Laws and regulations restricting access to syringes are pervasive across the United States; the laws contribute significantly to the high-risk behavior of IDUs who are unable to comply with public health advice to use a new syringe for each injection. Moreover, data from Connecticut demonstrate that deregulation significantly decreases multiperson use of syringes.1Drs Tsao and Roaf are correct in observing that improperly disposed


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