Letters / Free needles spread infection

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I READ with interest the comments by John Didlick, executive officer, Hepatitis ACT (letters, CN, October 22). Once again there was a suggestion for needles in the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

quillBut Geoffrey Farrell, professor of hepatic medicine at the ANU, wrote earlier this year that “injection of contaminated blood by drug users is now virtually the only means of acquiring the virus [hep C]”, adding that “even those we successfully treat easily become reinfected because of continued drug-taking using unsafe practices.”

Approximately 250 million needles over the past 30 years have been distributed to the Australian community (Victoria alone issues about four million annually), numbers of hep C sufferers have risen from around 25,000 30 years ago to a staggering 230,000 (Hep C Council) today.

It is known that up to 28 per cent of needles are contaminated through shared use. So free needles are actually contributing disproportionately to the spread of the infection as evidenced by the increase in sufferers.

If two offenders can avoid the law for eight years, does anyone seriously believe addicted inmates will suddenly abide by the rules and not, at their convenience, multi-use?

Colliss Parrett, Drug Advisory

Council Australia, Barton

Respect the rivers

I WOULD like to highlight to your readers that 993 people have drowned in a river, creek or stream in the past 13 years. This makes rivers the leading location for drowning in Australia.

All types of people are drowning in rivers from young children to the elderly. What is most alarming is that almost three quarters of people who drowned in rivers, were close to their home and a majority were male.

So, why are so many drowning in our local rivers? The flat, still surface of a river, gives a false sense of security. You can’t see ice-cold water, snags like tree branches or strong currents but they can be lethal.

Dangerous activities such as consuming alcohol, driving through floodwaters and not wearing a lifejacket are also adding to the alarming figures.

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia has launched a campaign to save lives on Australian rivers and is asking when enjoying our rivers to please remember to: always wear a lifejacket; avoid alcohol around water; never swim alone and learn lifesaving skills.

It’s simple – Respect the River.

More information at royallifesaving.com.au/respecttheriver

Justin Scarr, CEO, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia

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