Syringe Exchange Programs, Resolution on

Resolution Adopted by the





by the Board of Trustees

June, 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


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:

  • 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;

  • Exchange programs assure

    safe disposal of hazardous biomedical waste, a public health


  • 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.

  • 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


    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.


  • to advocate for the

    establishment of SEP’s to be implemented under the authority of

    County Health Departments;

  • to protest publicly in places where such

    programs exist but are under political attack;

  • 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

  • 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;

  • 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.