Largest U.S. needle exchange tries free meth pipes in Seattle

A man prepares to inject himself with heroin using a needle obtained from the People's Harm Reduction Alliance, the nation's largest needle-exchange program, in Seattle, WashingtonBy Eric M. Johnson SEATTLE (Reuters) – Occasional crystal meth smoker Richard Russell ambles up to a church storage garage in a Seattle alley and a recovering drug addict hands him two brand new meth pipes, no questions asked. Inject." The theory behind the handout program is that giving meth pipes to drug users may steer some away from needles, which are far riskier than smoking, especially if the user is sharing with another person infected with HIV or hepatitis C. There is little scientific evidence to support that claim, but The People's Harm Reduction Alliance, a privately funded needle-swap group run by drug users, said it has distributed more than 1,000 pipes in Seattle in a matter of weeks and could expand to other cities in Washington state and Oregon. Its program also draws addicts from society's fringes into its compassionate fold, with links to treatment and housing services, Executive Director Shilo Murphy said.

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