AIDS and Behavior  |  April 21, 2017

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Providing clean needles through syringe services programs (SSPs) prevents the spread of disease among people who inject drugs (PWID). The recent HIV outbreak in Scott County, Indiana was a wakeup call with particular significance because modeling suggests that Scott County is but one of many counties in the United States highly vulnerable to an HIV outbreak among PWID. It is a painful recognition that some policy makers ignored the evidence in support of SSPs when it was primarily blacks in inner cities that were affected, yet swung into action in the wake of Scott County where 99% of the cases were white. Too many Americans have been taught to shame and shun drug users (irrespective or race or ethnicity). Therefore, we need lessons that afford benefits to all communities. We need to understand what made opinion leaders change their views and then change more hearts and minds before, not after the next outbreak.

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