Religious Organizations that support syringe exchange by liuqingyan


									                    Denominations’ Needle Exchange Positions
The Episcopal Church

In 1994, the denomination’s 71st General Convention passed resolution A003, to “affirm the necessity of
accessible drug treatment, needle access, safe sex programs, and the affirmation of monogamy in all sexual
relationships,” and to “press forward on local, state and national levels to ensure the dignity of every human
being.” (See:

Presbyterian Church USA

In 2000, the 212th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA voted to approve Overture 00-79,
which advocates “lifting the ban on the use of federal funds to support needle exchange programs.”
This builds upon the General Assembly’s 1993 resolution, which “supports legalization of programs that
distribute clean hypodermic needles with counseling to drug-dependent individuals for prevention of
disease.” (See:

United Church of Christ

The UCC’s HIV/AIDS Ministries urges people to “advocate for a needle exchange program in your
community.” (See:

Unitarian Universalist Association

In 2002, the UUA General Assembly passed a statement of conscience includes a recommendation to expand
“clean needle distribution and exchange.” (See:

Union for Reform Judaism

In 1997, the URJ’s Commission on Social Action passed a resolution to "encourage federal, state, provincial,
and/or local legislative bodies to pass laws allowing certified health workers to exchange contaminated
needles and syringes for clean ones, in conjunction with drug education, and to provide funds for such

Subsequently, in 2001, the Board of Trustees of the URJ’s Central Conference of American Rabbis passed
a “Resolution on Syringe Exchange Programs,” which includes a recommendation urging the federal
government “to make clean needle exchange programs financially possible wherever they are needed.”

            See the reverse side for the CCAR’s powerful, compelling resolution, in its entirety
                                      (with some bold emphasis added).
                                    Central Conference of American Rabbis, 2001

The mode of transmission of HIV has been changing over the last decade or so. Although there are still many
individuals who contract HIV through sexual contact, the fastest growing mode of transmission is the sharing of
infected needles by intravenous drug users.

Those addicted to injectable drugs usually self-inject between 5 to 8 times per day. Since it is illegal in many locales to
own a syringe without a prescription for a legal drug, clean needles are in short supply among addicts.

Throughout the country local groups have sponsored syringe exchange programs to insure that addicts do not use
infected needles for their drug use. There are many tangible benefits to these programs:

1. Studies show that addicts prefer to use clean needles and thus will exchange used needles for them, cutting down
   on use of infected syringes and lowering the spread of disease;

2. Exchange programs assure safe disposal of hazardous biomedical waste, a public health hazard;

3. Street-based syringe exchange programs cause a sub-group of society to come into regular contact with
   health care workers who can help monitor and direct addicts toward already available social services,
   including drug rehabilitation.

4. The recent articles published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, The International
   Journal of Addiction and Office of the Surgeon General the have concluded that these programs have the potential
   to hold down rates of infection. They also offer some salutary effect on addicts themselves by bringing them
   into contact with representatives of mainstream society;

Yet these programs are under attack from those who believe that SEP's simply perpetuate addiction. We are all agreed
that drug rehabilitation is the best way to cut down on infection by used or dirty needles. That goal is
unrealistic, however, given the lack of contact with the population of addicted persons and the shortage of
affordable drug treatment facilities.

To do nothing is to watch the HIV infected population grow along with a significant risk to the rest of society.
We teach "Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor, I am Adonai" (Lev.19.16b). We do not stand by the
blood of neighbors who are at risk for infection from contaminated needles that are not disposed of properly.
But we also do not stand idly by the blood of neighbors who suffer simply because they are addicts.


1. to advocate for the establishment of SEP's to be implemented under the authority of County Health

2. to protest publicly in places where such programs exist but are under political attack;

3. to use our pulpits, offices and classrooms to increase awareness on this matter, using already existing materials
   from the UAHC and/or local AIDS Task Forces

4. to urge local governments to allocate more funds so that rehabilitation from drug addiction may become a reality
   for the many who want it but cannot afford it;

5. to urge the Federal Government to allocate more money to HIV/AIDS research in general and SEP's in
   particular in order to make clean needle exchange programs financially possible wherever they are needed.


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