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The End of an Era
Reflections on the eviseration of local needle exchange
Needle exchange as we have come to know it and rely upon it in Santa Cruz County is dead. Its passing should be mourned by more than the clients who used these services responsibly and who, it seems, are always the last people considered. It should also be mourned by a community that blindly and all too quickly abandoned good sense when the howl of the mob called for elimination of not only this essential service, but for the people it served.
Because, you see, the people who have effectively brought down a time tested, working public health model have done so for one reason and one reason only. They truly believe that reducing or eliminating altogether access to needles will solve the problems of addiction, co-dependency and crime. How little they know or understand.
It is said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and in this instance it will be deadly dangerous. When a new model of needle exchange rises from the ashes of the old, it will be driven by bureaucracy, overseen by law enforcement and rejected out of hand by the people it is created to serve. And the result will be more needles in our parks and on our beaches, more exposure to HIV and Hepatitis C infection and more, much more, of the witch hunt that has given rise to this new reality.
Better the community had closed its eyes entirely rather than divining our future through a veil of ignorance.