Report calls for needle exchange for prisons
TORONTO (CP) — A new report calls for the establishment of needle and syringe distribution programs in Canada’s prisons, warning the high rate of bloodborne infections in prisons is a public health issue that affects all of society.
The report, from the Canadian HIV-AIDS Legal Network, said there is evidence from other countries that the programs reduce transmission of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C among inmates and do so without adding to levels of institutional violence.
“People in our communities currently have access to needle and syringe programs. Therefore, people in prison should have the same access to clean needles and syringes,” the organization said.
The report uses personal histories provided by 50 men and women who have spent time in Canadian prisons; they openly recount how prevalent drug use is in correctional facilities. Many are identified by their full names, though some supply their observations under a pseudonym.
The stories they tell are of a world where clean needles are far more difficult to obtain than drugs, where drug use is rampant and the sharing of injection paraphernalia commonplace.
“I know that 30 or 40 people would share one syringe,” said a man identified as Gordon, 54, from Toronto.
“Sometimes there was only one syringe in the whole jail and you would have to pay to use it. I’ve seen six guys use a single syringe without cleaning it.”
While a number of countries in Europe have needle and syringe programs in prisons and others are considering them, none of Canada’s prisons has such a program, the report said.
And HIV-AIDS specialist Dr. Peter Ford thinks it is unlikely that gap will be filled any time soon.
“ The prisons are a reservoir for these infections,” Ford, who treats HIV-infected patients in federal penitentiaries in Ontario, said of HIV and hepatitis C. BAGHDAD — A female suicide bomber detonated her explosives inside a way station for Shiite pilgrims Monday, killing 54 people and rattling security officials who are struggling against a possible rise in violence before key elections next month.
The attack was the third major strike by suspected Sunni insurgents in a week and left Baghdad’s top security official acknowledging that extremists are adopting new methods to outwit bomb-detection squads such as stashing explosives deep inside the engines and frames of vehicles.
A similar warning about new tactics came last week from the chief U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. Raymond Odierno, after a two-day wave of suicide car bombers struck three hotels in Baghdad and the city’s main crime lab, killing at least 63 people.
U.S. and Iraqi officials are deeply concerned that insurgents such as al-Qaida in Iraq could step up violence before March 7