Needle sharing among drug users falls

The Associated Press

NEW YORK Needle sharing among drug users fell 40 percent after Connecticut passed a law permitting syringe sales without prescriptions, according to a study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

The finding is good news in the battle against AIDS, as 75 percent of AIDS cases in Connecticut, and most around the country, occur among intravenous drug users, their sexual partners and children, the journal reported. Easing restrictions on clean needle sales, then, could cut the spread of AIDS.

''This is something that made a dramatic change in behavior at no cost to the public,'' Beth Weinstein, director of the AIDS division of the Connecticut Health Department, told The New York Times, which reported on the journal study in yesterday's editions.

Weinstein's department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted the study.

Connecticut is one of five states that allow non-prescription sale of syringes. The others are North Dakota, Alaska, Iowa and South Carolina. Connecticut legalized the possession of syringes that are not contaminated with illegal drugs in 1992.

The nine states that require prescriptions for syringes, including New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California, have the highest incidence of AIDS.

Researchers also said lower rates of sharing syringes had been found among drug users in Washington state because needles were available in pharmacies, according to a 1991 survey.

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