LINTHICUM, MD, June 22 - Needle-exchange programs that would provide addicts with syringes that are hard to reuse will find HIV rates not dropping but increasing, according to an article in this month's special edition of a journal published by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).
"You'd think that distributing syringes that can't easily be infected or passed among addicts would cut the spread of AIDS," says Dr. Edward H. Kaplan, a management scientist at the Yale School of Management and an author of the article. "But sometimes, what seems like a good idea just isn't."
"In this case, introducing the new syringes into the current needle population could change HIV risks, and not necessarily for the better," says Dr. Jonathan Caulkins of RAND and Carnegie Mellon University, the study's lead author and an authority on drug policy.
The study appears in a special issue about AIDS in Interfaces: An International Journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. Dr. Kaplan, the author of a seminal study supporting needle exchange programs, will speak on AIDS and Israel's blood supply at the 12th World AIDS Conference in Geneva from June 28 to July 3. A number of contributors to the special issue will offer papers and oral presentations at the convention.
Plausible But Wrong
With at least half of new HIV infections in the U.S. occurring among addicts who take drugs intravenously, methods for preventing HIV transmission via needle reuse have received considerable attention. One proposal is engineering and distributing syringes that are not easily shared. Currently, there are several different possible designs of difficult-to-reuse syringes, also known as DTRs.
Mathematical modeling, the key tool employed by management scientists and
operations researchers, shows that DTRs would make the AIDS epidemic worse.
The study examines one proposal, the introduction of DTRs via a one-for
Contact: Barry List
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences