Andre Picard: A call for pragmatism in clean-needle debate
here is no such thing as a drug-free prison; never has been, never will be. According to CSC’s own figures, one in every nine prisoners injects drugs regularly – this despite all rules, the searches and the guards.
Drugs are easy to smuggle, but hiding a six-pack of needles in an orifice is a little more tricky. So injection drug users do two things: They fashion needles out of any material they can find, and they share. To access those needles they use the common prison currency: sex.
All these practices entail serious health risks. Dull needles cause wounds and infections. Sharing homemade, unsterilized needles spreads infections with incredible efficiency, and transactional sex is almost as efficient.
Lack of access to clean needles is one of the principal reasons that infection rates for HIV and hepatitis C are 10 to 30 times higher in the prison population than in the general population.
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Andre Picard: A call for pragmatism in clean-needle debate

here is no such thing as a drug-free prison; never has been, never will be. According to CSC’s own figures, one in every nine prisoners injects drugs regularly – this despite all rules, the searches and the guards.

Drugs are easy to smuggle, but hiding a six-pack of needles in an orifice is a little more tricky. So injection drug users do two things: They fashion needles out of any material they can find, and they share. To access those needles they use the common prison currency: sex.

All these practices entail serious health risks. Dull needles cause wounds and infections. Sharing homemade, unsterilized needles spreads infections with incredible efficiency, and transactional sex is almost as efficient.

Lack of access to clean needles is one of the principal reasons that infection rates for HIV and hepatitis C are 10 to 30 times higher in the prison population than in the general population.

Read more.