Today, acting as a surrogate for the McCain campaign, former Gov. Frank Keating (R-OK) linked Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) support for needle exchange programs to Bill Ayers:
But on the Ayers side, it does suggest character and judgment…Barack Obama…voted for needle exchanges, voted against making it a felony for a gang member to go back to gang activity while on probation. I mean these are reckless, extreme, anti-law enforcement, leftist positions. And the American public, I think, needs to know about them because it shows a lot about somebody’s value system and character.
Keating is suggesting that Obama’s support for needle exchange programs and his other so-called “reckless, extreme, anti-law enforcement, leftist positions” explain the senator’s alleged sympathy for Bill Ayers.
But if terrorist sympathizers and “radicals” are the only supporters of needle exchange programs, then we may have a lot more sleeper cells than we thought.
Currently, 28 states and Washington D.C.— including Keating’s home state of Oklahoma — “provide free sterile syringes in exchange for used syringes to reduce transmission of bloodborne pathogens among injection-drug users.” In 1998, “then Secretary of HHS Donna Shalala certified that based on extensive scientific research, needle exchange programs are an effective component of a comprehensive strategy to reduce HIV transmission and do not encourage the use of illegal drugs.”
Studies reviewed by the National Institute of Health Consensus Panel on HIV Prevention concluded that needle exchanges lead to reductions “in risk behavior as high as 80%” and are economically cost effective. “The cost per HIV infection prevented by SEPs has been calculated at $4,000 to $12,000, considerably less than the estimated $190,000 medical costs of treating a person infected with HIV,” the studies found.
Moreover, “the American Medical Association, the American Bar Association, the American Public Health Association, and the National Conference of Mayors” and 66 percent of Americans support needle-exchange programs.